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Story 1: United States Military Special Operators Force Suicide of ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — Videos –

See the source image

President Trump Announces ISIS Leader Killed in US Military Raid

President Donald Trump announces the death of Islamic State Leader al-Baghdadi

Trump confirms death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Mike Pompeo goes inside the mission that killed al-Baghdadi

‘It was a brilliantly executed operation’: Defense secretary on al-Baghdadi raid | ABC News

‘He died like a dog’ Trump addresses the nation and says ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died ‘whimpering and crying and screaming’

  • Donald Trump announced Sunday morning that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead 
  • U.S.-led forces descended on al-Baghdadi’s lair in Idlib, Syria overnight 
  • The president said al-Baghdadi ‘died like a dog’ after being run down a dead-end tunnel and cornered
  • Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children
  • Eleven children were cleared from the lair
  • Baghdadi’s two wives were killed during the operation without their suicide vests being detonated
  • Trump teased Saturday night that he would be making a ‘major statement’ 
  • Al-Baghdadi issued a chilling call to arms in 2014 declaring an Islamic ‘caliphate’ 
  • Under his leadership, smaller-scale higher-frequency attacks became the norm 
  • Trump says he does not regret pulling U.S. forces from northern Syria 

 

Donald Trump announced Sunday morning that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ‘died like a dog’ as the result of a U.S. Special Ops forces raid on his hideout in northwest Syria.

‘Last night the United State brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,’ Trump said from the Diplomatic Reception Room, where just a week earlier he announced a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds.

‘He was the founder and leader of ISIS, the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world,’ he continued as he described the events of the raid.

Al-Baghdadi, the president confirmed, detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and three children, during an overnight targeted attack in Syria’s Idlib province.

The president touted the operation and al-Baghdadi’s death as ‘bigger than bin Laden.’ Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Qaeda and the terrorist leader behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, was killed in 2011 during a Navy SEALs operation during Barack Obama’s presidency.

‘This is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country,’ Trump said, referencing al-Baghdadi’s creation of the Islamic State.

Donald Trump addressed the nation Sunday morning, confirming that the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said he had watched and monitored the whole operation Saturday night

Donald Trump addressed the nation Sunday morning, confirming that the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said he had watched and monitored the whole operation Saturday night

Meeting in the situation room Saturday night (from left to right): National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, Vice President Mike Pence, Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark Milley and Brig. General Marcus Evans

Meeting in the situation room Saturday night (from left to right): National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence, Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark Milley and Brig. General Marcus Evans

Trump also referred to al-Baghdadi and those who followed him as ‘losers,’ and lauded that no U.S. personnel were lost during the raid. He did say, however, that one ‘talented canine’ was injured.

‘I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation, while a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him,’ Trump said during his rare Sunday morning remarks.

‘He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,’ Trump continued, adding that Baghdadi drug three of his children with him. ‘They were led to certain death.’

‘He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. the tunnel had caved in on it, in addition. But test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him. The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,’ he detailed.

he White House confirmed that Trump watched and listened to the operations unfold in the Situation room Saturday night – Sunday morning Syria time – with National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark Milley and Brig. General Marcus Evans.

The president said, while claiming he’s been looking for Baghdadi ever since assuming office, that he’s potentially the only one better at ‘using the internet’ than ISIS forces.

‘A couple of weeks ago they were able to scope him out,’ Trump said of the U.S. intelligence community.

‘You know, these people are very smart, they are not into the use of cell phones any more. They’re very technically brilliant,’ the president said in reference to those working for ISIS.

‘You know, they use the internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump,’ he continued. ‘But they use the internet incredibly well and what they’ve done with the internet through recruiting and everything – and that is why he died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying, and frankly I think it’s something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries – including the United States – they should see how he died. He didn’t die a hero, he died a coward – crying, whimpering, and screaming and bringing three kids with him to die. Certain death.’

The president teased Saturday night, ‘Something very big has just happened!’ and the White House also announced that night that the president would be ‘making a major statement’ Sunday morning from the White House.

Trump said he does not regret his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which opened the way for Turkey to invade and target Kurdish forces.

Caliphate leader: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his own suicide vest during the targeted raid on his lair in Syria's Idlib province and killed three of his children in the blast. He is shown in a still from a video released in April, having not been seen since he spoke at the Grand Mosque in Mosul in 2014

Caliphate leader: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his own suicide vest during the targeted raid on his lair in Syria’s Idlib province and killed three of his children in the blast. He is shown in a still from a video released in April, having not been seen since he spoke at the Grand Mosque in Mosul in 2014

Syrians ride a motorcycle past a burnt vehicle near the site where a helicopter gunfire reportedly killed nine people near the northwestern Syrian village of Barisha

Syrians ride a motorcycle past a burnt vehicle near the site where a helicopter gunfire reportedly killed nine people near the northwestern Syrian village of Barisha

Al-Baghdadi arrived at the area of the raid 48 hours beforehand, Turkish officials said – and the CIA assisted in locating him.

Information is now emerging over how the U.S. was able to track down Baghdadi, including details of his whereabouts from two inside informants.

A senior Iraqi intelligence official told the Associated Press that a few months ago an Iraqi aide to al-Baghdadi was killed in western Iraq by a U.S. airstrike, and his wife was arrested and handed over to Iraqi authorities.

The official indicated that the wife ended up being a key source of information on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts. The Iraqis who had her in custody were ultimately able to pass along to the U.S. coordinates on al-Baghdadi through information they learned from the aide’s wife.

A second Iraqi security official said al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law was recently arrested by the Iraqis and also gave information on Baghdadi’s whereabouts

The ISIS leader’s two wives, who were both wearing explosive devices that never detonated, were taken down. Several of his children were taken from the lair and are still alive. Several others were killed in the attack.

Trump said more people were killed than captured, but confirmed there are some in U.S. custody.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed on Sunday they had worked with the U.S. on a ‘successful’ operation against Islamic State.

‘Our strong and effective operations once again confirm our strength and determination to go after (Islamic State),’ the head of the SDF’s media office said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces is an alliance in the Syrian Civil War made up of primarily Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian/Syriac militias.

SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi took partial credit for taking down al-Baghdadi, but also thanked the president and U.S. Army in its efforts, which he said have been under way for almost half-a-year.

‘For five months there has been joint intel cooperation on the ground and accurate monitoring, until we achieved a joint operation to kill Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi. Thanks to everybody who participate in this great mission,’ Abdi tweeted, tagging Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic caliphate, blew himself up during the targeted attack on his lair in Syria's Idlib province in the early hours of Sunday morning. His lair was in a village known for smuggling, and he arrived there 48 hours before the raid

The ISIS leader has been among U.S. and Europe’s force’s most wanted figures since his chilling call to arms in 2014, which saw a shift away from the mass casualty attacks carried out by al-Qaeda in favor of smaller-scale acts of violence.

Shifting away from the airline hijackings and other mass-casualty attacks that came to define al-Qaeda, al-Baghdadi encouraged smaller-scale acts of violence that would be harder for law enforcement to prepare for and prevent.

He encouraged jihadists who could not travel to the caliphate to instead kill where they were using whatever weapon they had at their disposal, resulting in a series of devastating attacks in the UK and Europe.

His words inspired more than 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries other than Iraq and Syria, resulting in the deaths of at least 2,043 people, CNN reports.

Since 2016, the State Department has offered a reward of up to $25 million for information or intelligence that could lead to Baghdadi’s capture or death.

Al-Baghdadi led ISIS for the last five years, presiding over its ascendancy as it cultivated a barbaric reputation for beheadings and horrific executions.

These recordings, often noted for their high production values, were distributed online along with the ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq.

He remained among the few ISIS commanders still at large despite multiple claims in recent years about his death and even as his so-called caliphate dramatically shrank, with many supporters who joined the cause either imprisoned or jailed.

A picture taken on October 27, 2019 shows a burnt vehicle at the site where a helicopter gunfire killed nine people near the northwestern Syrian village of Barisha in the province of Idlib near the border with Turkey

A picture taken on October 27, 2019 shows a burnt vehicle at the site where a helicopter gunfire killed nine people near the northwestern Syrian village of Barisha in the province of Idlib near the border with Turkey

Trump teased, without explanation on Saturday that 'Something very big has just happened!' and the White House confirmed the president would be addressing the nation on Sunday morning

Trump teased, without explanation on Saturday that ‘Something very big has just happened!’ and the White House confirmed the president would be addressing the nation on Sunday morning

With a £19.5 million ($25m) bounty on his head, al-Baghdadi had been far less visible in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings, including one just last month in which he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free ISIS detainees and women held in jails and camps.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an attack carried out by a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by a warplane.

The attacks were on positions where ISIS  operatives were believed to be hiding in the Barisha area north of Idlib city, after midnight on Saturday-Sunday.

It said the helicopters targeted ISIS positions with heavy strikes for about 120 minutes, during which jihadists targeted the helicopters with heavy weapons.

The Syrian Observatory documented the death of nine people as a result of the coalition helicopter attack, adding that the death toll is likely to rise due to the presence of a large number of wounded.

The strike came amid concerns that a recent American pullback from northeastern Syria could infuse new strength into the militant group, which had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.

The purported audio was his first public statement since last April, when he appeared in a video for the first time in five years.

Reports suggest that al-Baghdadi, the elusive militant who has been the subject of an international manhunt for years, had been killed in Idlib, Syria

Reports suggest that al-Baghdadi, the elusive militant who has been the subject of an international manhunt for years, had been killed in Idlib, Syria

In 2014, he was a black-robed figure delivering a sermon from the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri, his only known public appearance.

He urged Muslims around the world to swear allegiance to the caliphate and obey him as its leader.

‘It is a burden to accept this responsibility to be in charge of you,’ he said in the video.

‘I am not better than you or more virtuous than you. If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me. And obey me as far as I obey God.’

The death of such a high-value U.S. target comes amid a difficult political backdrop for Trump, who has been frustrated heavy media focus on the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, which he calls a bipartisan smear.

He has also faced withering criticism from both Republicans and Democrats alike for his U.S. troop withdrawal from northeastern Syria, which permitted Turkey to attack America’s Kurdish allies.

The rise and fall of the Islamic State

The Islamic State group erupted from the chaos of Syria and Iraq’s conflicts, declaring itself a ‘caliphate’ after conquering a giant stretch of territory.

Its territorial rule, which at its height in 2014 stretched across nearly a third of both Syria and Iraq, ended in March with a last stand by several hundred of its militants at a tiny Syrian village on the banks of the Euphrates near the border with Iraq.

But the militants have maintained a presence in both countries, and their shadowy leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had continued releasing messages urging them to keep up the fight.

Here are the key moments in the rise and fall of the Islamic State group:

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - who was also known as Caliph Ibrahim - released a propaganda video in 2014 where he addressed Muslim worshipers at a mosque in Mosul

April 2013 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announces the merger of his group with al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, forming the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

January 2014 – Al-Baghdadi’s forces overrun the city of Fallujah in Iraq’s western Anbar province and parts of the nearby provincial capital of Ramadi. In Syria, they seize sole control of the city of Raqqa after driving out rival Syrian rebel factions, and it becomes their de facto capital.

February 2014 – Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri disavows al-Baghdadi after the Iraqi militant ignores his demands that IS leave Syria.

June 2014 – IS captures Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and pushes south as Iraqi forces crumble, eventually capturing Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit and reaching the outskirts of Baghdad. When they threaten Shiite holy sites, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric issues a call to arms, and masses of volunteers, largely backed and armed by Iran, join militias.

June 29, 2014 – The group renames itself the Islamic State and declares the establishment of a self-styled ‘caliphate’ in its territories in Iraq and Syria. Al-Baghdadi is declared the caliph.

July 4, 2014 – Al-Baghdadi makes his first public appearance, delivering a Friday sermon in Mosul’s historic al-Nuri Mosque. He urges Muslims around the world to swear allegiance to the caliphate and obey him as its leader.

August 2014 – IS captures the town of Sinjar west of Mosul and begins a systematic slaughter of the tiny Yazidi religious community. Women and girls are kidnapped as sex slaves; hundreds remain missing to this day.

August 8, 2014 – The U.S. launches its campaign of airstrikes against IS in Iraq.

September 22, 2014 – The U.S.-led coalition begins an aerial campaign against IS in Syria.

January, 2015 – Iraqi Kurdish fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, drive IS out of several towns north of Mosul. In Syria, Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes repel an IS onslaught on the town of Kobani on the border with Turkey, the first significant defeat for IS.

April 1, 2015 – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces retake Tikrit, their first major victory against IS.

May 20, 2015 – IS captures the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, where the extremists later destroy archaeological treasures.

February 9, 2016 – Iraqi forces recapture Ramadi after months of fighting and at enormous cost, with thousands of buildings destroyed. Almost the entire population fled the city.

June 26, 2016 – Fallujah is declared liberated by Iraqi forces after a five-week battle.

July 3, 2016 – IS sets off a gigantic suicide truck bomb outside a Baghdad shopping mall, killing almost 300 people, the deadliest attack in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

October 17, 2016 – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces the start of the operation to liberate Mosul.

Iraqi Army soldiers celebrate as they hold an IS flag, which they captured during a raid on a village outside Mosul in November 2016

Iraqi Army soldiers celebrate as they hold an IS flag, which they captured during a raid on a village outside Mosul in November 2016

November 5, 2016 – The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces launch Operation Euphrates Wrath, the first of five operations aiming to retake Raqqa, starting with an encircling of the city.

January 24, 2017 – Al-Abadi announces eastern Mosul has been ‘fully liberated’.

May 10, 2017 – SDF captures the strategic Tabqa dam after weeks of battles and a major airlift operation that brought SDF fighters and their U.S. advisers to the area. The fall of the dam facilitated the push on Raqqa, about 25 miles away.

June 6, 2017 – SDF fighters begin an attack on Raqqa from three sides, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

June 18, 2017 – Iraqi forces launch battle for Mosul’s Old City, the last IS stronghold there.

June 21, 2017 – IS destroys Mosul’s iconic al-Nuri Mosque and its 12th century leaning minaret as Iraqi forces close in.

July 10, 2017 – Iraqi PM declares victory over IS in Mosul and end of the extremists’ caliphate in Iraq.

October 17, 2017 – SDF takes full control of Raqqa after months of heavy bombardment that devastates the city.

September – December, 2017 – Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power and Iranian forces, recapture IS territory on the western bank of the Euphrates River, seizing the cities of Deir el-Zour, Mayadin and Boukamal on the border with Iraq.

Isis lost its hold over Mosul in July 2017 but the city suffered severe bombing

Isis lost its hold over Mosul in July 2017 but the city suffered severe bombing

August 23, 2018 – IS leader al-Baghdadi resurfaces in his first purported audio recording in almost a year; he urges followers to ‘persevere’ and continue fighting.

September 10, 2018 – SDF launches a ground offensive, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, to take the last territory held by IS in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

March 23, 2019 – SDF declares the complete capture of Baghouz and the end of the Islamic State group’s territorial ‘caliphate’.

October 27, 2019 – President Donald Trump announced that al-Baghdadi was killed during a US. Special Ops forces raid on his hideout in northwest Syria. Trump said the ‘violent terror leader’ died after running into a dead-end tunnel, and detonating his suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.

  – Source: Associated Press

Story 2: Delusional Democrats Still Pushing Impeachment Despite No Evidence of High Crimes and Misdemeanors — Videos —

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Varney: Dems still pushing impeachment despite al-Baghdadi triumph

Trump blasts Adam Schiff: ‘He’s a corrupt politician’

Trump calls impeachment inquiry a ‘lynching’

 

Story 3: Joe Biden The Marathon Man For President — Videos

JOE BIDEN LEAD IS FADING: Could Pete Buttigieg Win the 2020 Democratic Nomination?

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Joe Biden in Danger of Humiliating Loss in Iowa, Top Democrats Warn

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Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden In Statistical Dead Heat In Iowa: Poll | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Joe Biden Adds To Lead And Warren Surges In New NBC Poll Of 2020 Democrats | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

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UPDATED DATA 10/28/2019

POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE
The State of the Democratic Primary

On a daily basis, Morning Consult is surveying over 5,000 registered voters across the United States on the 2020 presidential election. Every Monday, we’ll update this page with the latest survey data, offering an in-depth guide to how the race for the Democratic nomination is shaping up.

 

To receive an early look at this report, and other key 2020 data, sign up here.

Who’s Leading Now

The figures are broken out among Democratic primary voters nationwide and in early primary states, which includes just voters who live in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. The latest results are based on 15,431 survey interviews conducted between Oct. 21-27, 2019.

1
Joe Biden Former Vice President
32%
2
Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator
20%
Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senator
20%
4
Pete Buttigieg Mayor
7%
5
Kamala Harris U.S. Senator
6%
6
Andrew Yang Business Person
3%
7
Cory Booker U.S. Senator
2%
Tulsi Gabbard U.S. Representative
2%
Amy Klobuchar U.S. Senator
2%
2%
1%
1%
1%
1%
1%
0%
1%
SEE MORE CANDIDATES

Tracking The Field Over Time

Hover over or click each line to track how support for candidates has changed week to week.

Select Options
All
None
 Andrew Yang
 Amy Klobuchar
 Bernie Sanders
 Beto O’Rourke
 Bill de Blasio
 Cory Booker
 Elizabeth Warren
 Joe Biden
 John Delaney
 Julian Castro
 Kamala Harris
 Marianne Williamson
 Michael Bennet
 Pete Buttigieg
 Steve Bullock
 Tulsi Gabbard
 Tom Steyer
 Tim Ryan
AMONG DEMOCRATIC VOTERSJan-13-201917-Feb24-Mar28-Apr2-Jun7-Jul11-Aug15-Sep20-Oct0%10%20%30%40%

Second Choices: Where Voters Could Migrate

After voters registered their first choice, they were asked a follow-up about whom they would choose as a second option. The results below show where the supporters for a selection of leading candidates could go next. Hover over or click cards to see more.

BIDEN SUPPORTERS
Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
BIDEN SUPPORTERS
Second Choice Selections

Elizabeth Warren

28%

Bernie Sanders

26%

Pete Buttigieg

9%
WARREN SUPPORTERS
Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator
WARREN SUPPORTERS
Second Choice Selections

Bernie Sanders

28%

Joe Biden

25%

Pete Buttigieg

14%
SANDERS SUPPORTERS
Joe Biden
Former Vice President
SANDERS SUPPORTERS
Second Choice Selections

Joe Biden

30%

Elizabeth Warren

28%

Kamala Harris

6%
BUTTIGIEG SUPPORTERS
Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
BUTTIGIEG SUPPORTERS
Second Choice Selections

Elizabeth Warren

28%

Joe Biden

20%

Bernie Sanders

11%
HARRIS SUPPORTERS
Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
HARRIS SUPPORTERS
Second Choice Selections

Elizabeth Warren

25%

Joe Biden

22%

Bernie Sanders

14%

Tracking Name Recognition and Favorability

Respondents were asked whether they had a favorable impression of each of the following, and also had the option of saying they hadn’t heard of that person or had no opinion about them.

 Favorable
 Heard Of, No Opinion
 Never Heard Of
 Unfavorable
Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator
76%6%1%17%
Joe Biden Former Vice President
74%7%1%19%
Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senator
68%11%6%15%
Kamala Harris U.S. Senator
55%15%11%19%
Beto O’Rourke Former U.S. Representative
45%20%17%18%
Cory Booker U.S. Senator
47%19%18%16%
Julian Castro Former Secretary, HUD
34%27%19%19%
Pete Buttigieg Mayor
48%18%21%13%
Andrew Yang Business Person
40%23%23%14%
Amy Klobuchar U.S. Senator
34%23%27%16%
John Delaney Former U.S. Representative
18%37%31%14%
Tim Ryan U.S. Representative
21%32%31%16%
Tulsi Gabbard U.S. Representative
21%23%33%23%
Michael Bennet U.S. Senator
20%33%35%12%
Tom Steyer Business Person
26%24%36%14%
Marianne Williamson Activist & Author
17%24%37%22%
Steve Bullock Governor
18%32%39%12%

Methodology

About Morning Consult Political Intelligence

On a daily basis, Morning Consult surveys over 5,000 registered voters across the United States. Along with 2020 presidential election data, Political Intelligence tracks the approval ratings for all governorssenators, House members, the president, and more at the national, state and congressional district level.

Each week, we will release a report with the most important findings on the 2020 election. Sign up to receive that report in your inbox here.

Results from the most recent update

This page was last updated on October 28, 2019.

Our Democratic primary results are reported using 15,431 interviews with registered voters who indicated they may vote in the Democratic primary or caucus in their state. For those who say don’t know or no opinion, they are asked to pick a candidate they are leaning toward. Results are reported among first choice and those who lean toward a candidate. The interviews were collected October 21-27, 2019, and have a margin of error of +/- 1%. The “Early Primary State Voters” demographic consists of 611 voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, and has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

In the case of a tie, candidates are ordered alphabetically by last name.

https://morningconsult.com/2020-democratic-primary-2/

 

The Zombie Campaign

Joe Biden is the least formidable front-runner ever. Will it matter?

Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally in Philadelphia on May 18, 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Inevitably, he arrives late, by SUV or van. The former vice-president is thin and, yes, he’s old. He dresses neatly and always in blue. Staff envelop him. There’s the body man, the advance man, the videographer, the photographer, the digital director, the traveling chief of staff, the traveling press secretary, the local press secretary, the adviser, the other adviser, the adviser’s adviser, the surrogate, the other surrogate, and the bodyguard.

The looming presence of the last guy, Jim, is especially important for optics. Jim is tall and official-looking. He greets the world chest-first, his hands resting in a dignified clasp, his expression even, his mouth unmoving. Most people assume that he’s a Secret Service agent. Which he was.

But ex-VPs don’t get security for life the way ex-presidents do. Most people don’t know that, not even the politically savvy types who attend these sorts of things. And that’s all for the best, because Jim — or whatever local guy they’ve got filling in for him in Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or wherever else — is a necessary component of the vibe they’re trying to generate here, the Big Presidential Energy, if you will, that powers this production.

And it is a production. This is true even when the event is small, which it often is, because the stakes never are — Joe Biden speaking off the cuff is something the entire campaign seems focused on preventing at all costs. Inside the community center or union hall or college auditorium, the stage is crafted just so. The red and blue letters — each roughly the size of a 9-year-old — spell IOWA 4 BIDEN. The American flag is stretched taut and stapled to the plywood. The lawn sign is stapled to the lectern. The delicate panes of teleprompter glass angle to meet his hopeful gaze, so that he may absorb the programmed speech as he peers out at his audience, which usually skews quite old and white, unless he’s in South Carolina.

This first part — the reading of the speech — he almost always gets right. Even when he makes changes, rearranging the order of the words, skipping over a few, adding others, how could he not get it right? He’s been delivering some version of it for more than 40 years and living it for longer. He could deliver it in his sleep, if he ever sleeps. It’s like my father always said: Joey, a job is about more than just a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say, “It’s gonna be okay …” There is an undercurrent of shame that pulses throughout, this idea that the unequalness of our society is embarrassing for those who have access to less, rather than embarrassing for those who have more than anyone could need.

Folks … Not a joke! He’s always saying something rather solemn, about cancer or immigration, and then adding, “Not a joke!” as if anyone thought it might be. I’m being serious here … Come on … The bottom line is … I’m not kidding around … The fact of the matter is … Barack and me … Folks … Folks … Folks … folks … folks … folks … folks … folks … folks … folks … FOLKS … folks … FoLkS … fOlKs … F. O. L. K. S. …

And this next part — the greeting of the voters — he gets right, too. In this context, he possesses an almost mystical quality that, for whatever reason, does not come across when filtered through the kaleidoscope of newsprint or television. It’s the way he focuses his eyes, which are as blue as the seas, except for (yikes) that time the left eye filled with blood on CNN a few weeks back.

He is swarmed. Women reach out to him, linking their arms in his. He bows his head and lifts their hands to his mouth for a kiss and, later, when you ask them if that makes them uncomfortable, they look at you like you have three heads. This is the best day of their lives. Are you insane? There are men, too, who embrace him, wrapping their hands around his neck. He calls every male-presenting human he encounters “man.” I watched him call a baby “man.” As in, Hey! How­areya, man?! He is as skilled a selfie-taker as any influencer, and in the span of 30 or 40 minutes, he snaps hundreds, leaning his body against the rope that separates him from the crowd, straining it one, two, three feet forward. He really does connect with every living being this way, talking about their jobs or their health care as he listens, sometimes crying with them, whispering in their ears, taking their phone numbers and promising to call them. He does, in fact, do that. Everybody is Joe Biden’s long-lost friend. Every baby is Joe Biden’s long-lost child. A little girl in Iowa City called him her uncle Joe. On the Fourth of July in the town of Independence, he took off, running through the parade like a dingo with somebody’s newborn. As hard as it might be to believe that anything in this realm could not be bullshit, it’s simply true that this isn’t.

His own loss is staggering in its scale and cruelty: Neilia, his wife, and Naomi, his infant daughter, killed in a car crash. Beau, his oldest son, who survived that crash with his brother, Hunter, killed decades later by brain cancer. And it’s as though in that loss he’s gained access to an otherwise imperceptible wavelength on which he communicates in this way, with the eyes and the hands.

“I don’t know how to describe it, but sometimes some people would walk up with a lot of emotion in their face, and without even hearing their story, he could connect with them,” John Flynn, who served as Biden’s senior adviser in the White House, said. “He would know it was either one thing or another, and he would just know how to approach them and to get them to gently open up if they wanted to. And if they didn’t want to, he just said, ‘Hey, I’m with you, and I’m there for you. I feel your pain.’ ”

Chris Coons was an intern for Biden in the Senate and is now a United States senator from Delaware himself. He told me about Loretta Wootten, a former colleague who in January went into a coma after a car crash that killed her husband. “I went to visit Loretta when she regained consciousness, and she looks at me, and she says, ‘Does Joe know I’m here?’ That’s her first sentence. I said, ‘I don’t know. I mean, he’s running for president.’ And, she says, ‘I just would love to hear from him.’ The next time I see him, I say, ‘Do you remember Loretta Wootten?’ and he smiles and he says, ‘Of course.’ I said, ‘Well, Loretta’s husband was just killed in a car accident, and she’s in recovery.’ And he gets this look, and he turned to someone and said, ‘Get me a piece of paper.’ And he writes out this page-long, heartfelt message to her, hands it to me, and says, ‘Please get this to her.’ When I delivered that to her, she wept with joy.”

I have witnessed this kind of connection at nearly all of the countless events I’ve attended in a half-dozen states in the six months since Biden announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. If he ever does sleep, surely Joe Biden dreams as he proselytizes, of an unbroken America, its ideals and reputation restored, where everybody is folks and folks have everything they need and maybe some of what they want, where the field is just even enough that nobody is ashamed of their own place on it, and where the president isn’t an idiot but where you can easily deal with the idiots by kicking the shit out of them out back in a parking lot or something. Crucially, in this dream, Joe Biden is the president.

A campaign event in New Hampshire in October. Photo: M. Scott Brauer

The pitch goes like this: Joe Biden ought to be the nominee because he’s electable, a meaningless concept if recent history is any guide, and presidential, that wonderful word — the thing Donald Trump could never be even though he literally is president — despite the fact that Biden, who appears by almost any measure to be a good man, a man whose lone sin in life is ego (and does that even count anymore?), has spent a half-century grasping for this position and watching it slip through his fingers.

To anyone paying attention — the army of political professionals more wired to observe shortcomings than are those likely to actually vote for him or for anyone else — it looks, unmistakably, like it’s happening again. His vulnerabilities are close to the surface. There’s the basic fact of his oldness and the concerns, explicit or implicit, about his ability to stay agile and alive for four more years. This was true of Biden, who is 76, even more than it was true of Bernie Sanders, who is the oldest candidate at 78, up until Sanders had a heart attack while campaigning in Nevada earlier this month. (It’s not true at all of Elizabeth Warren, who is 70 but seems a decade younger. And it’s not exactly true of Trump, who is 73 and really just seems crazy, not old.)

But it’s not just his age itself. It’s his tendency to misspeak, his inartful debating style, and — most of all — his status as a creature from another time in the Democratic Party, when the politics of race and crime and gender were unrecognizably different. It’s not just that the Joe Biden of yesteryear sometimes peeks out from behind the No. 1 Obama Stan costume. It’s that the Joe Biden of today is expected to hold his former self accountable to the new standards set by a culture that’s prepared to reject him. And though he’s the party Establishment’s obvious exemplar, he can’t seem to raise any money — spending more in the last quarter than he brought in and moving into the homestretch with less than $9 million in the bank (roughly a third of what Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders has on hand). For political reporters, marveling every day at just how well this isn’t going, watching Biden can feel like being at the rodeo. You’re there because on some level you know you might see someone get killed.

Yet Biden is still the front-runner. Volatile and potentially worthless as they may be, it’s what the polls say. Biden leads the field on average by a handful of percentage points, though his lead has trended steadily downward, from a high of 33 in May to 20 in June to 11, and then to 9.9, and 6.6, and 5.4, according to RealClearPolitics. In the whole campaign, there has only been one day — October 8 — when he slipped to second place, an average of 0.2 points behind Warren. He’s also the front-runner in South Carolina, Nevada, California, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. “There is this sense of hanging on. And perhaps he can. But that’s generally not the way the physics of these things work,” former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. “Generally, you’re either moving up or moving down. Warren is clearly moving up. There’s no sign that he is.”

Biden is aware that it’s not going well. But it’s not apparent that he knows how to fix it. Recently, according to his staff, his anxieties have manifested more visibly. If he begins to question something small, he spirals, eventually questioning everything. Should he be saying this in his speech? Wait, should he be giving this speech at all? Should he even be focusing on this group? Is this even the right position? He freaks out over minor stuff on the trail that staffers don’t believe he should be concerning himself with and yet is unable to make strategic adjustments. But the staff concern themselves with unimportant matters, too, running what they think is a general-election campaign when they need to be running a primary. Inside the campaign, the Biden brain trust seems to exist more to comfort the candidate than to compel him, and strategy meetings inevitably devolve into meandering, ruminative roundtables that feel purposeless except to fill time in the day. Nobody will tell the candidate in plain terms what they think he needs to change. Not that Biden really listens anyway.

Some on the campaign still believe he can win, in part because they believe he should win. But even to them, the path to a collapse seems clear: Biden loses in Iowa and New Hampshire, where his leads have been steadily declining for months and where, recently, Elizabeth Warren has overtaken him, and then, as a result, loses his sheer aura of electability, too. But inside the campaign, they reportedly see another path, though it might not seem, at first, an optimistic one: Okay, so he loses Iowa and then New Hampshire, but so what? Because he is who he is and represents what he represents — the embodiment of both the white-working-class model of the electorate and the glow of the Obama years — he can weather the losses and march to victory through Super Tuesday and beyond. “Their theory is a long, twilight struggle where they accumulate delegates everywhere as minority voters start playing a larger role,” Axelrod said. “But in reality, it’s tough to be a winner when you keep losing or at least appear to be.”

Biden would obviously like you to think about his age as experience, but another way of thinking about experience is as a record. He’s got a long one. When he was elected to the Senate, Pete Buttigieg was still a decade away from birth. There’s a lot of material, then, for Biden’s critics to work with. All sorts of stuff that doesn’t age well, or doesn’t quite compute, in this season of absolutism: Anita Hill and allegations that he violated the personal space of several women, controversy over his crusade against busing as a desegregation measure and his eagerness to work with segregationist lawmakers. Last week, after Biden attacked Trump for calling his impeachment a “lynching,” video emerged of Biden calling Bill Clinton’s impeachment the same thing. If it was relevant to American political life at any point since Richard Nixon was president, Biden probably said something about it, but it’s new to many younger voters and activists and talking heads now.

Many of them treat Biden’s talking as yet another symptom of his age, but Biden has always been like this. “His major defect is that he goes on and on and on,” Orrin Hatch told the Washington Post in 1986, when Biden was 43. To say he overcame his childhood stutter would be a bad joke, like one of those I BEAT ANOREXIA T-shirts they sell on the Jersey boardwalk in size XXXL.

In Des Moines, in August, he told a crowd, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” Realizing what he’d done, he tried to correct himself. “Wealthy kids,” he said, “black kids, Asian kids. No, I really mean it, but think how we think about it.” Two weeks later, in Keene, New Hampshire, he said, “I love this place. Look, what’s not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it? And what a neat town. This is sort of a scenic, beautiful town.” (When he returned to New Hampshire the following month, a protester held a sign that read WELCOME TO VERMONT, JOE.) And so on.

Biden is cocooned by family, longtime advisers, and former White House staff. His wife Jill, Val, Mike Donilon, Ted Kaufman, Bruce Reed, Annie Tomasini, Tony Blinken, Steve Ricchetti, Ron Klain. But beyond that small circle, veterans are harder to find on his campaign. Biden is chronically slow to make decisions, and his late entry into the race, which came months after many of his competitors, was an additional challenge to staffing the campaign. Many working at Biden headquarters in Philadelphia have no experience on a presidential campaign, and some have never worked on any campaign at all; even those closest to the candidate address him, deferentially, as “sir.”

“Some of these folks who have never worked on a presidential before are like, ‘Okay, I’m working for the former vice-president!’ They don’t really feel like it’s slipping,” one senior campaign adviser told me. “There’s such reverence for getting to work for the vice-president that I think, for some of those folks, there’s a mentality of How could we possibly lose? He’s who he is. I don’t think they see that that’s not all it’s gonna take.” (Yes, even Biden’s staff say “folks” the way others say “like” or “um.”)

For many of these staffers, the campaign feels like it should be a coronation. Joe Biden 2020 isn’t a labor of love or ideology. It’s about the proper order of things. It’s about who’s entitled to what. It’s the vehicle by which the Democratic Party Establishment arrives once more to power, the displaced Obama and Clinton professionals reinstalled at the levers. If the Republic is spared in the process — which everybody genuinely wants, sure! — that’s a plus. And it’s great branding. When it comes to the enthusiasm voters wear on their sleeves for Warren or Sanders, the Biden campaign strikes a cool, dismissive pose, as if it could be believed that a candidate for president weren’t preoccupied with such metrics.

The activist wing of the party is a lost cause to Biden just as he’s a lost cause to them. When they show up at his speeches to confront him or protest in support of the Green New Deal, something I’ve witnessed twice in New Hampshire, he attempts to formulate what he surely believes is a respectful response, and yet they don’t think it’s enough, because nothing that he says could be enough because of who he is. Can you blame anyone under the age of 30 for their cynicism, for their hostility?

“Internally, there was always this idea that there would be some point when he wasn’t No. 1,” one senior campaign adviser swears. “To some extent, people were prepped for that. There isn’t a culture inside the campaign right now like, This is a done deal and we’ve lost. The culture is, This is getting real. People are still reacting to that. The question is: Does this now change our strategy and our culture? That’s where we are right now, figuring out what this new stature means.”

Where they are, if you’re keeping track, is slumped. And it’s a strange dynamic — the most qualified candidate in the race, surrounded by entitled staff who don’t understand that they have to fight for the nomination, or even the presidency, but without a real case to make beyond a Democratic succession that would amount to an Obama restoration. “He has no center,” as one person close to the Biden family put it. “He’s literally only a politician. That’s who he is. That’s all he is. Biden is fundamentally a toadie. He’s just political. He needs to kiss ass? He’ll kiss ass.”

“They have him in the candidate-protection program,” Axelrod says. “I don’t know if you can do that. I don’t know if you can get through a whole campaign that way. Either he can hack it or he can’t hack it. If you’re worried the candidate can hurt himself talking to a reporter, that’s a bad sign.” (Biden declined to be interviewed for this story.)

For his part, Biden is consumed with his endorsements, another sign of his perhaps outdated political instincts; getting insiders to declare their support meant something when powerful political machines controlled the primary process, but it has much less relevance to presidential politics today. And the only endorsement that could matter hasn’t materialized. President Barack Obama has remained silent on the 2020 primary even as he saw it fit to involve himself in Canadian affairs, endorsing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A senior White House official, reflecting on Biden’s weakness, told me Biden should have never even entered the race without knowing he’d have the former president’s support.

Of course, that was always less of a sure thing than it might have seemed. In 2016, Obama went all-in for Hillary, even as his vice-president contemplated a run. In the early stages of this race, he didn’t just avoid aligning himself with Biden but gestured toward other candidates, including unlikely contender Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, possibly to discourage his former veep from running.

And then there’s Hunter Biden himself, who was going to become an issue one way or another. The 49-year-old son of privilege and tragedy, he has had struggles with addiction and run-ins with the law that have been well-documented. The campaign did its best to control the subject, cooperating with a tell-all interview over the summer in which Hunter candidly discussed his drug use and his relationship with his brother’s widow. This is sometimes how flacks think they’ll get ahead of a story: You neuter the shock value by delivering the shock yourself. But when your son is a central character in an impeachment saga likely to preoccupy all of Washington and political news for six months, it’s a hard thing to get ahead of, especially when you don’t really seem to want to engage.

“It’s sort of bewildering,” Axelrod says. “I guess I understand it from a familial, psychological sense. It would just be so much better if he stated the obvious: Even Hunter has said he exercised poor judgment. He won’t even say what his kid said. It’s an obvious question as to why the rules that he’s going to apply in the future didn’t apply in the past. All this was foreseeable … You can’t say, ‘He did nothing wrong,’ and, ‘He’ll never do it again.’ Those things don’t go together. Biden can be stubborn. I think his stubbornness is showing here.” All of that said, Axelrod added, “what Trump is doing is loathsome and outrageous because there’s no evidence that Biden did anything wrong or that Hunter did anything wrong.”

In a certain sense, impeachment creates for Biden what he wanted all along: a direct competition with Trump. Looked at it one way, it’s a story about how the president of the United States was so worried about his formidable opponent that he risked his entire presidency, and even broke the law, to try to stop him. But in other ways, it’s exactly what Biden hoped to avoid: a focus on his most troubled child, the last remaining member of his first family, and the privilege his political and celebrity status affords. Even if he didn’t do anything “wrong,” Trump is right that there’s a swamp, though he doesn’t realize he’s its ugliest creature, and impeachment is a daily reminder that Biden swims there, too. Who could withstand an entire year of character assassination by the president, who is aided by a political media that projects his every statement to the world?

Former vice-president Joe Biden.
Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux/Mark Peterson/Redux

At the Iowa State Fair in August, as candidates took to the stage to deliver their stump speeches and answer questions from the Des Moines Register, I stood off to the side with a few members of the press. We craned our necks downward to squint at a zoomed-in photo of the side of Joe Biden’s head. There, just behind the ear, is where you can supposedly observe the scar from a face-lift, one of many cosmetic procedures Biden is rumored to have had.

The dramatic change to Biden’s appearance is a matter of preoccupation for Biden-watchers. In the timeline of images from throughout his career, you can observe as he grows older and then younger and then older but somehow more elegant and alert. His hair is white now but thicker than it was in the 1980s. He’s thinner, but his cheeks are fuller than they were in 2008. To be honest with you, he looks good. He’s almost 77!

This is also a minor obsession of the White House, as you can probably imagine. Privately, Trump has marveled at the “work” Biden has had done and the fact that, in his opinion, he doesn’t look any better for it. Those who know him say the president is against plastic surgery (by which I assume they don’t mean breast implants) and, especially, bad plastic surgery, and he considers it an all-too-common tragedy when someone has their face inexpertly altered.

A senior White House official who regularly discusses the campaign with Trump was describing how his view of Biden has evolved since the winter. It was then, before Biden declared, that the campaign began conducting polling and sharing the results with Trump himself. The internal numbers were as bad as the external. Biden destroyed Trump. The president’s anxieties only grew as Biden became a more popular topic on cable news. “It was easy to get caught up,” this official said. “The president saw that it’s easier to picture Joe Biden up on the debate stage than some of the others.”

Over time, as Biden formally waded into the race, and the president saw the reality of the candidate as opposed to the idea of Vice-President Joe Biden, he grew less concerned, according to the senior White House official. Biden was no longer “the guy he was worried about.” And one of the reasons was, in Trumpian fashion, “his look.” Though the official adds a few more items to the list as well: “His cadence. His inability to speak. His small crowds.”

Trump has also commented on Biden’s wardrobe choices, wondering why he’d wear Ralph Lauren polo shirts on the campaign trail that show off his graying chest hair and skinny arms. (Trump himself wears polo shirts almost exclusively while golfing).

Inside the White House and the reelection campaign, the true believers know how to decode Trump’s bitchy nicknames for his competitors. As iconic as “Crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted” may be, his crowning achievement remains “Low Energy,” his characterization of Jeb Bush. “Sleepy Joe” is considered Trump’s attempt at a 2020 remake of “Low Energy,” and it’s all about emphasizing Biden’s age.

In September, somebody had the bright idea to stage an afternoon event under the open sky at the Indian Creek Nature Center in sunny Cedar Rapids. It was the day after news of the whistle-blower broke, but Biden stuck to the event’s topic, climate change, addressing all the usual themes. Then faces began turning upward to the birds overhead. Somebody from Showtime’s The Circus told me the birds were bald eagles, but at the time I thought they looked like hawks, which, I guess, is a sort of glass-half-empty or -half-full dilemma. Eventually, word of the alleged bald eagles made its way to Biden, and with a look of optimism, he turned his face to the sky. He grew emotional. He said that at the Lake House, Beau used to sit by the water and watch the bald eagles fly overhead. The night Beau died, in 2015, Biden said he watched an eagle take off from the lake, circle in the sky, and then fly away. He hadn’t seen another bald eagle since that night, he said, until now. Looking at the bird, he said, “Maybe that’s my Beau.”

Biden wrote a book about his grief, and about his son, called Promise Me, Dad. Therein, he tells a similar story, but with a different bird. That night, he wrote, “Jill spotted a white egret at the far edge of the water.” She told her husband that, as he lay dying, she whispered to Beau to go to the dock, “his happy place,” with his brother. “We watched the egret for twenty minutes, until it finally took flight,” Biden wrote. “The two of us sat in silence as the egret circled overhead repeatedly, slowly gaining altitude, until it finally headed away to the south, beneath the clouds, and gradually disappeared from sight. ‘It’s a sign from God,’ Jill said. ‘Beau being at the lake one last time, and heading for heaven.’ ”

Anne Kearns is an 84-year-old grandmother of 16 and retired professor. For 58 years, she has lived in the modest blue house with black shutters on North Washington Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden lived during the first decade of his life.

“He calls this ‘the Homestead,’ ” she told me last Sunday. We were sitting in the living room, surrounded by framed photos of her large family and one photo of Biden, propped up on the TV stand. For most of his career, Biden was among the least-wealthy members of Congress, an attractive bullet point that he continues to note even after amassing a fortune in his post–White House life. He often claims that “they” call him “Middle-Class Joe.” (As far as I can tell, he is the only person who calls himself this.) But he’s always had a weakness for grand old houses, even before he could really afford them, and an odd habit of referring to his properties by nicknames: North Star (for the Delaware village in which it was located), the Station (his once-bustling home in Wilmington), and the Lake House (self-explanatory). What does Anne call the Homestead in which she lives? “Well, nothing,” she said, laughing.

You could tell the story of Biden’s astonishingly long political career through Anne and through this house.

She first learned there was an interesting man who had once lived here in 1972, when she saw Biden’s ads on TV. At the time, he was running for the U.S. Senate against Cale Boggs, a powerful Republican who had won seven consecutive elections in Delaware, climbing from Congress to the governor’s mansion and ultimately to the Senate. Boggs was 63, and Biden, who at 29 wouldn’t even be eligible to serve in the office he was seeking until two weeks after Election Day, used his seniority against him. “We need some new thinking,” read one of Biden’s advertisements. “He understands what’s happening today,” read another. “My husband said to me — he watched him all the time on TV — and he’d say, ‘Ah, he’s going to be something someday,’ ” Anne said.

In 1988, when Biden was running for president the first time, reporters and authors began knocking on Anne’s door. A boy who lived down the street brought her a signed photo Biden had addressed to her, thanking her for her cooperation in this strange endeavor.

By her count, Biden himself has visited the Homestead six times over the years, once privately with his late mother, who refused to get out of the car despite Anne assuring her that the visit was not a disturbance, and other trips with the media and even Hillary Clinton.

“He came another time with Terry Moran from Nightline, and they walked across the street. At that time, I had a leg done, and so my niece was sitting where you are” — she gestured to my chair — “and she said, ‘I think that’s Joe Biden coming.’ I thought, No, he was here two weeks ago. My nephew stood up, and he said, ‘Anne, it is Joe Biden.’ They had left a message on my phone and I didn’t hear it.”

In 2008, the Obama-Biden campaign staged a formal event here with 400 people plus Secret Service sweeping through and rows of seating set up next door for reporters. Biden went upstairs to his old bedroom and signed the wall. Anne keeps photos from that day in an album underneath the television, and in them, Biden can be seen writing in black Sharpie, I AM HOME — JOE BIDEN 9 * 1 * 08. By then, Biden had served in the Senate for 25 years and run for president twice — once disastrously, ending in a plagiarism scandal, and once unremarkably, ending in a vice-presidential campaign.

The whole neighborhood, Anne said, took pride in him, supported him. Even the old lady across the street, whose sons told her she wasn’t allowed to speak to reporters or let them into the house anymore, still loves Joe Biden.

Age isn’t just a weakness for Biden. There are a lot of old people in America, and many of them really like the former vice-president. They don’t see a doddering, out-of-touch, exhausted man, as the 20- and 30- and 40-somethings who cover the campaign and dominate social media do. They look at him and see, well, a statesman from the popular recent administration who has moved to the left as the party has, if not quite as much as his younger rivals. These are the people that really vote in elections, and, to them, that all seems pretty good. “I worry when I read that he is even with somebody. I just read a piece this morning that he’s even with the Warren lady,” Anne said.

“I really think he’d be wonderful in getting us back with the people that are overseas. I think he’s wonderful dealing with people. I would definitely support him. I think he knows what’s going on with all those people … He’s a wonderful man. He really is wonderful, and he cares about people.”

A few days after I left the Homestead, Biden gave a speech at the Scranton Cultural Center. At the last minute, he decided to make an unplanned stop on North Washington Avenue. As photographers snapped away from the sidewalk, Anne answered the door. Biden wrapped her in a hug.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/10/joe-biden-2020-campaign.html

CNN Poll: Biden’s lead in Democratic primary hits widest margin since April

WASHINGTON (CNN) Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for president has rebounded, and now stands at its widest margin since April, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Biden has the support of 34% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters, his best showing in CNN polling since just after his campaign’s formal launch on April 25.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are about even for second, with 19% and 16%, respectively. Behind them, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris of California each have 6% support, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke each at 3%.
Biden’s rise comes largely from a consolidation of support among his core backers, and doesn’t appear to harm any individual opponent. Warren and Sanders hold about even with their standing in the last CNN poll in September, and no other candidate has seen a shift of more than 2 points in that time.
But Biden has seen big spikes in support among moderate and conservative Democrats (43% support him now, up from 29% in the September poll), racial and ethnic minorities (from 28% among all nonwhites in September to 42% now) and older voters (up 13 points since September among those 45 and older) that outpace those among younger potential Democratic voters (up 5 points among those younger than 45).
The gains come as Biden’s time as vice president is put under the spotlight by President Donald Trump and his allies. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives over allegations that he pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as the 2016 US election in return for releasing hundreds of millions in congressionally mandated defense funding meant for Ukraine. Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company while Biden was vice president. There is no evidence that either Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine.
The poll suggests that although Biden’s October debate performance did not blow away the audience (15% who watched or followed news about it said he had done the best job in the debate, well behind Warren’s 28% — but better than most on the stage), the arguments he made on health care, foreign policy and the economy may have boosted his standing with the potential Democratic electorate.
Asked which candidate would best handle a range of top issues, Biden leads the way on four of the six issues tested in the poll. He holds a massive edge over the field on foreign policy (56% say he would handle it best, well ahead of Sanders at 13% and Warren at 11%), and tops the next closest candidate by nearly 20 points on the economy (38% Biden, 19% Sanders, 16% Warren). Biden also outpaces the rest of the field as most trusted on immigration (29% Biden, 16% each Warren and Sanders) and gun policy (27% vs. 13% Sanders and 11% Warren, with O’Rourke close at 9%).
Biden doesn’t hold a significant edge on the critical issue of health care (31% Biden, 28% Sanders, 17% Warren) but he’s surged 13 points on the issue since June, when he lagged behind Sanders. Neither Sanders’ nor Warren’s numbers on the issue have moved significantly in that time.
And Biden now runs even with Sanders at 26% as best able to handle the climate crisis. Warren is at 18% on that issue. The results mark increases for Biden and Sanders, who were each at 19% on handling the climate in June.
The former vice president’s advantages on the issues come as he emphasizes an approach that appears to align with the preferences of most potential Democratic voters. A 53% majority say they want the nominee to advocate policies that have a good chance of becoming law, even if the changes aren’t as big, vs. 42% who prefer advocating big changes even if they have less of a chance of becoming law.
Among those voters who prefer an approach that prioritizes policies with a better chance of becoming law, 38% support Biden for the Democratic nomination, 17% Warren and just 8% Sanders. On the other side, it’s nearly a three-way split, with 27% behind Biden, 24% Sanders and 21% Warren.
About 1 in 5 potential Democratic voters say they watched last week’s debate among 12 Democratic candidates, and those who watched it came away with a different assessment than those who mainly followed news about the debate. Overall, among everyone who either watched or followed news coverage on the debate, 28% say Warren had the best night, 15% Biden, 13% Sanders, 11% Buttigieg, 4% Klobuchar and 2% Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, with the rest at 1% or less. Among those who say they watched it, though, Warren remains on top at 29%, but 21% say Buttigieg had the best night, then 13% Biden, 11% Sanders, 10% Klobuchar and 4% Booker, with everyone else at 1% or less
.
And those who watched the debate seem to have more favorable views of the lesser-known candidates who were seen as having good nights than do those who followed coverage. Among debate watchers, 74% have a favorable view of Buttigieg, vs. 54% among those who followed news instead. Booker’s favorability rating is 80% among those who watched, vs. 55% among those who followed coverage, and Klobuchar’s favorability stands at 56% among watchers vs. 36% among those who followed news.
Warren tops the list of candidates who potential Democratic voters say they want to hear more about: 31% name her, 24% Buttigieg, 23% Harris, 18% Booker, 17% Sanders, 16% Biden, 13% Klobuchar, 11% O’Rourke and 10% businessman Andrew Yang.
Majorities of potential Democratic voters say they would at least be satisfied with any of the top three becoming the party’s nominee, with about 4 in 10 saying they’d be enthusiastic about Biden (43%), Warren (41%) or Sanders (39%). Fewer would feel as excited should Buttigieg become the party’s nominee (27% enthusiastic).
Registered voters generally give Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg large advantages over President Donald Trump in hypothetical general election matchups. Biden leads the President by 10 points, 53% to 43%, with Sanders up 9 (52% to 43%) and Warren up 8 (52% to 44%). Buttigieg holds a 6-point edge, 50% to 44%.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS from October 17 through 20 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer, including 424 registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. For results among potential Democratic voters, it is plus or minus 5.8 points.
OVERVIEW
The study was conducted for CNN via telephone by SSRS, an independent research company. Interviews were
conducted from October 17-20, 2019 among a sample of 1,003 respondents. The landline total respondents were
352 and there were 651 cell phone respondents. The margin of sampling error for total respondents is +/- 3.7 at
the 95% confidence level. The design effect is 1.47.More information about SSRS can be obtained by visiting
http://www.ssrs.com. Question text noted in parentheses was rotated or randomized. Unless otherwise noted, results
beginning with the March 31-April 2, 2006 survey and ending with the April 22-25, 2017 survey are from surveys
conducted by ORC International. Results before March 31, 2006 are from surveys conducted by Gallup.
NOTE ABOUT CROSSTABS
Interviews were conducted among a representative sample of the adult population, age 18 or older, of the United
States. Members of demographic groups not shown in the published crosstabs are represented in the results for
each question in the poll. Crosstabs on the pages that follow only include results for subgroups with a minimum
n=125 unweighted cases. Results for subgroups with fewer than n=125 unweighted cases are not displayed and
instead are denoted with “SN” because samples of that size carry larger margins of sampling error and can be too
small to be projectable with confidence to their true values in the population.

2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries

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2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries


← 2016
2024 →

1,885 of 3,769[a] pledged delegate votes needed to win the presidential nomination at the convention‘s first ballot.[1]
(2,268 of all 4,535[b] delegate votes needed to win any subsequent ballots at a contested convention)[1]


Previous Democratic nominee
Hillary Clinton

The 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses will be a series of electoral contests organized by the Democratic Party to select the approximately 3,769[a] pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Those delegates shall, by pledged votes, elect the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.[2] The elections are scheduled to take place from February to June 2020 in all fifty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and Democrats Abroad.

Independently of the result of primaries and caucuses, the Democratic Party will—from its group of party leaders and elected officials—also appoint 765[b] unpledged delegates (superdelegates) to participate in its national convention. In contrast to all previous election cycles, superdelegates will no longer have the right to cast decisive votes at the convention’s first ballot for the presidential nomination (limiting their voting rights to either non-decisive votes on the first ballot or decisive votes for subsequent ballots on a contested convention).[2][3][4]

The field of major Democratic presidential candidates in the 2020 election peaked at more than two dozen. As of October 24, 2019, 18 major candidates are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. The October 15, 2019 Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio featured 12 candidates, setting a record for the highest number of candidates in one presidential debate.

Contents

Background[edit]

After Hillary Clinton‘s loss in the previous election, many felt the Democratic Party lacked a clear leader.[5] There remained divisions in the party following the 2016 primaries which pitted Clinton against Bernie Sanders.[6][7] Between the 2016 election and the 2018 midterm elections, Senate Democrats have generally shifted to the political left in relation to college tuition, healthcare, and immigration.[8][9] The 2018 elections saw the Democratic Party regain the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, picking up seats in both urban and suburban districts.[10][11]

Soon after the 2016 general election, the division between Clinton and Sanders supporters was highlighted in the 2017 Democratic National Committee chairmanship election between Tom Perez and Keith Ellison.[12] Perez was narrowly elected chairman and subsequently appointed Ellison as the Deputy Chair, a largely ceremonial role.[8][9]

The 2020 field of Democratic presidential candidates peaked at more than two dozen candidates. According to Politifact, this field is believed to be the largest field of presidential candidates for any American political party since 1972;[c] it exceeds the field of 17 major candidates that sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.[14] In May 2019, CBS News referred to the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates as “the largest and most diverse Democratic primary field in modern history”.[15] As of October 24, 2019, 18 major candidates are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.[16] The October 15, 2019 Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio featured 12 candidates, setting a record for the highest number of candidates in one presidential debate.[17][18]

Reforms since 2016[edit]

On August 25, 2018, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) members passed reforms to the Democratic Party’s primary process in order to increase participation[19] and ensure transparency.[20] State parties are encouraged to use a government-run primary whenever available and increase the accessibility of their primary through same-day or automatic registration and same-day party switching. Caucuses are required to have absentee voting, or to otherwise allow those who cannot participate in person to be included.[19]

The new reforms also regulate how the Democratic National Convention shall handle the outcome of primaries and caucuses for three potential scenarios:[2][4]

  1. If a single candidate wins at least 2,268 pledged delegates: Superdelegates will be allowed to vote at first ballot, as their influence can not overturn the majority of pledged delegates.
  2. If a single candidate wins 1,886–2,267 pledged delegates: Superdelegates will be barred from voting at first ballot, which solely will be decided by the will of pledged delegates.
  3. If no candidate wins more than 1,885 pledged delegates: This will result in a contested convention, where superdelegates are barred from voting at the first formal ballot, but regain their right to vote for their preferred presidential nominee for all subsequent ballots needed until the delegates reach a majority.

The reforms mandate that superdelegates refrain from voting on the first presidential nominating ballot, unless a candidate via the outcome of primaries and caucuses already has gained enough votes (more than 50% of all delegate votes) among only the elected pledged delegates. The prohibition for superdelegates to vote at the first ballot for the last two mentioned scenarios, does not preclude superdelegates from publicly endorsing a candidate of their choosing before the convention.[4]

In a contested convention where no majority of minimum 1,886 pledged delegate votes is found for a single candidate in the first ballot, all superdelegates will then regain their right to vote on any subsequent ballot necessary in order for a presidential candidate to be nominated (raising the majority needed for such to 2,267 votes).[2][4]

Candidates[edit]

Major candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries have either: (a) served as Vice President, a member of the cabinet, a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Representative, or a Governor, (b) been included in a minimum of five independent national polls, or (c) received substantial media coverage.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

More than 250 candidates who did not meet the above-referenced criteria to be deemed major candidates also filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the Democratic Party primary.[27]

Current candidates[edit]

The following list of current candidates includes major candidates that have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the 2020 Democratic primary, have officially announced their respective candidacies, and have not withdrawn their candidacies. As of October 24, 2019, the total number of current candidates is 18.

Name Born Experience Home state Campaign
Announcement date
Ref.
Michael Bennet by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Michael Bennet
November 28, 1964
(age 54)
New Delhi, India
U.S. senator from Colorado (2009–present) Flag of Colorado.svg
Colorado
Michael Bennet 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: May 2, 2019
FEC filing[28]

[29]

Joe Biden
November 20, 1942
(age 76)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Vice President of the United States (2009–2017)
U.S. senator from Delaware (1973–2009)
Candidate for President in 1988 and 2008
Flag of Delaware.svg
Delaware
Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: April 25, 2019
FEC filing[30]

[31]
Cory Booker by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Cory Booker
April 27, 1969
(age 50)
Washington, D.C.
U.S. senator from New Jersey (2013–present)
Mayor of NewarkNew Jersey (2006–2013)
Flag of New Jersey.svg
New Jersey
Cory Booker 2020 Logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: February 1, 2019
FEC filing[32]

[33]
Steve Bullock by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Steve Bullock
April 11, 1966
(age 53)
Missoula, Montana
Governor of Montana (2013–present)
Attorney General of Montana (2009–2013)
Flag of Montana.svg
Montana
Steve Bullock 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: May 14, 2019
FEC filing[34]

[35][36]
Pete Buttigieg by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Pete Buttigieg
January 19, 1982
(age 37)
South Bend, Indiana
Mayor of South BendIndiana (2012–present) Flag of Indiana.svg
Indiana
Pete for America logo (Strato Blue).svg
Campaign


Exploratory committee: January 23, 2019
Campaign: April 14, 2019
FEC filing[37]

[38]
Julian Castro 2019 crop.jpg
Julián Castro
September 16, 1974
(age 45)
San Antonio, Texas
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2014–2017)
Mayor of San AntonioTexas (2009–2014)
Flag of Texas.svg
Texas
Julian Castro 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Exploratory committee:
December 12, 2018
Campaign: January 12, 2019
FEC filing[39]

[40]
John Delaney 2019 crop.jpg
John Delaney
April 16, 1963
(age 56)
Wood-Ridge, New Jersey
U.S. representative from MD-06 (2013–2019) Flag of Maryland.svg
Maryland
John Delaney 2020 logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: July 28, 2017
FEC filing[41]

[42]
Tulsi Gabbard August 2019.jpg
Tulsi Gabbard
April 12, 1981
(age 38)
Leloaloa, American Samoa
U.S. representative from HI-02 (2013–present) Flag of Hawaii.svg
Hawaii
Tulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaign logo black.svg
Campaign


Campaign: January 11, 2019
FEC filing[43]

[44]
Kamala Harris April 2019.jpg
Kamala Harris
October 20, 1964
(age 55)
Oakland, California
U.S. senator from California (2017–present)
Attorney General of California (2011–2017)
Flag of California.svg
California
Kamala Harris 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: January 21, 2019
FEC filing[45]

[46]
Amy Klobuchar 2019 (cropped).jpg
Amy Klobuchar
May 25, 1960
(age 59)
Plymouth, Minnesota
U.S. senator from Minnesota (2007–present) Flag of Minnesota.svg
Minnesota
Amy Klobuchar 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: February 10, 2019
FEC filing[47]

[48]
Wayne Messam by Marc Nozell (cropped).jpg
Wayne Messam
June 7, 1974
(age 45)
South Bay, Florida
Mayor of MiramarFlorida (2015–present) Flag of Florida.svg
Florida
Wayne Messam 2020 presidential campaign logo.png
Campaign


Exploratory committee:
March 13, 2019
Campaign: March 28, 2019
FEC filing[49]

[50]
Beto O'Rourke April 2019.jpg
Beto O’Rourke
September 26, 1972
(age 47)
El Paso, Texas
U.S. representative from TX-16 (2013–2019) Flag of Texas.svg
Texas
Beto O'Rourke 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: March 14, 2019
FEC filing[51]

[52]
Bernie Sanders July 2019 (cropped).jpg
Bernie Sanders
September 8, 1941
(age 78)
Brooklyn, New York
U.S. senator from Vermont (2007–present)
U.S. representative from VT-AL (1991–2007)
Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (1981–1989)
Candidate for President in 2016
Flag of Vermont.svg
Vermont
Bernie Sanders 2020 logo.svg
Campaign


Campaign: February 19, 2019
FEC filing[53]

[54]
Joe Sestak (48641414726) (cropped).jpg
Joe Sestak
December 12, 1951
(age 67)
Secane, Pennsylvania
U.S. representative from PA-07 (2007–2011) Flag of Pennsylvania.svg
Pennsylvania
Campaign


Campaign: June 22, 2019
FEC filing[55]

[56]
Tom Steyer by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Tom Steyer
June 27, 1957
(age 62)
Manhattan, New York
Hedge fund manager
Founder of Farallon Capital
Flag of California.svg
California
Tom Steyer 2020 logo (black text).svg
Campaign


Campaign: July 9, 2019
FEC filing[57]

[58]
Elizabeth Warren by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Elizabeth Warren
June 22, 1949
(age 70)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
U.S. senator from Massachusetts (2013–present)
Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2010–2011)
Flag of Massachusetts.svg
Massachusetts
Elizabeth Warren 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Exploratory committee:
December 31, 2018
Campaign: February 9, 2019
FEC filing[59]

[60]
Marianne Williamson (48541662667) (cropped).jpg
Marianne Williamson
July 8, 1952
(age 67)
Houston, Texas
Author
Founder of Project Angel Food
Independent candidate for U.S. House from CA-33 in 2014
Flag of California.svg
California
Marianne Williamson 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign


Exploratory committee:
November 15, 2018
Campaign: January 28, 2019
FEC filing[61]

[62]
Andrew Yang by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Andrew Yang
January 13, 1975
(age 44)
Schenectady, New York
Entrepreneur
Founder of Venture for America
Flag of New York.svg
New York
Andrew Yang 2020 logo.png
Campaign


Campaign: November 6, 2017
FEC filing[63]

[64]

Beside these major candidates, more than 250 other candidates who did not meet the above-referenced criteria to be deemed major candidates also filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the Democratic Party primary.[65] Other notable candidates who have not suspended their respective campaigns include:

Candidates who withdrew from the race before the 2020 primaries[edit]

The candidates in this section were major candidates who withdrew or suspended their campaigns before the 2020 Democratic primary elections began.

Candidate Born Experience State Campaign
announced
Campaign
suspended
Article Ref.
MAJ Richard Ojeda.jpg
Richard Ojeda
September 25, 1970
(age 48)
Rochester, Minnesota
West Virginia state senator from WV-SD07 (2016–2019) Flag of West Virginia.svg
West Virginia
November 11, 2018 January 25, 2019 Campaign
FEC filing[77]
[78][79]
Eric Swalwell (48016282941) (cropped).jpg
Eric Swalwell
November 16, 1980
(age 38)
Sac City, Iowa
U.S. representative from CA-15 (2013–present) Flag of California.svg
California
April 8, 2019 July 8, 2019
(running for re-election)
Eric Swalwell 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign
FEC filing[80]
[81][82]

Mike Gravel
May 13, 1930
(age 89)
Springfield, Massachusetts
U.S. senator from Alaska (1969–1981)
Candidate for President in 2008
Flag of California.svg
California
April 2, 2019
Exploratory committee: March 19, 2019–
April 1, 2019
August 6, 2019
(co-endorsed Sanders and Gabbard)[83]
Gravel Mg web logo line two color.svg
Campaign
FEC filing[84]
[85][83]
John Hickenlooper by Gage Skidmore.jpg
John Hickenlooper
February 7, 1952
(age 67)
Narberth, Pennsylvania
Governor of Colorado (2011–2019)
Mayor of DenverColorado (2003–2011)
Flag of Colorado.svg
Colorado
March 4, 2019 August 15, 2019
(running for U.S. Senate)[86]
John Hickenlooper 2020 presidential campaign logo.png
Campaign
FEC filing[87]
[88][89]
Jay Inslee by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Jay Inslee
February 9, 1951
(age 68)
Seattle, Washington
Governor of Washington (2013–present)
U.S. representative from WA-01 (1999–2012)
Flag of Washington.svg
Washington
March 1, 2019 August 21, 2019
(running for re-election)[90]
Jay Inslee 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign
FEC filing[91]
[92][93]
Seth Moulton August 2019.jpg
Seth Moulton
October 24, 1978
(age 41)
Salem, Massachusetts
U.S. representative from MA-06 (2015–present) Flag of Massachusetts.svg
Massachusetts
April 22, 2019 August 23, 2019
(running for re-election)[94]

Campaign
FEC filing[95]
[96][97]
Kirsten Gillibrand August 2019.jpg
Kirsten Gillibrand
December 9, 1966
(age 52)
Albany, New York
U.S. senator from New York (2009–present)
U.S. representative from NY-20 (2007–2009)
Flag of New York.svg
New York
March 17, 2019
Exploratory committee: January 15, 2019–
March 16, 2019
August 28, 2019 Gillibrand 2020 logo.png
Campaign
FEC filing[98]
[99][100]
Bill de Blasio by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Bill de Blasio
May 8, 1961
(age 58)
Manhattan, New York
Mayor of New York CityNew York (2014–present) Flag of New York.svg
New York
May 16, 2019 September 20, 2019 Bill de Blasio 2020 presidential campaign logo.svg
Campaign
FEC filing[101]
[102][103]
Tim Ryan (48639153698) (cropped).jpg
Tim Ryan
July 16, 1973
(age 46)
Niles, Ohio
U.S. representative from OH-13 (2013–present)
U.S. representative from OH-17 (2003–2013)
Flag of Ohio.svg
Ohio
April 4, 2019 October 24, 2019
(running for re-election)[104]
Timryan2020.png
Campaign
FEC filing[105]
[106][107]

The following notable individuals who did not meet the criteria to become major candidates have terminated their respective campaigns:

Potential major candidates[edit]

The persons listed in this section have, as of October 22, 2019, reportedly considered presidential bids within the past six months and would be major candidates.

Declined to be candidates[edit]

These individuals have been the subject of presidential speculation, but have publicly denied or recanted interest in running for president.

Political positions of candidates[edit]

Debates[edit]

In December 2018, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced the preliminary schedule for 12 official DNC-sanctioned debates, set to begin in June 2019, with six debates in 2019 and the remaining six during the first four months of 2020. Candidates are allowed to participate in forums featuring multiple other candidates as long as only one candidate appears on stage at a time; if candidates participate in any unsanctioned debate with other presidential candidates, they will lose their invitation to the next DNC-sanctioned debate.[192][193]

If any debates will be scheduled to take place with a location in the first four primary/caucus states (IowaNew HampshireNevada, and South Carolina), the DNC has decided such debates, at the earliest, will be held in 2020.[192] The DNC also announced that it would not partner with Fox News as a media sponsor for any debates.[194][195] Fox News had last held a Democratic debate in 2003.[196] All media sponsors selected to host a debate will as a new rule be required to appoint at least one female moderator for each debate, to ensure there will not be a gender skewed treatment of the candidates and debate topics.[197]

Debate schedule
Debate Date Time
(ET)
Viewers Location Sponsor(s) Moderator(s) Ref(s)
1A Jun. 26, 2019 9–11 pm ~24.3 million
(15.3m live TV; 9m streaming)
Arsht Center,
Miami, Florida
NBC News
MSNBC
Telemundo
Jose Diaz-Balart
Savannah Guthrie
Lester Holt
Rachel Maddow
Chuck Todd
[198][199]
[200][201]
1B Jun. 27, 2019 9–11 pm ~27.1 million
(18.1m live TV; 9m streaming)
2A Jul. 30, 2019 8–10:30 pm ~11.5 million
(8.7m live TV; 2.8m streaming)
Fox Theatre,
Detroit, Michigan
CNN Dana Bash
Don Lemon
Jake Tapper
[202][203][204][205]
2B Jul. 31, 2019 8–10:30 pm ~13.8 million
(10.7m live TV; 3.1m streaming)
3 Sep. 12, 2019 8–11 pm 14.04 million live TV Health and Physical Education Arena,
Texas Southern University,
Houston, Texas
ABC News
Univision
Linsey Davis
David Muir
Jorge Ramos
George Stephanopoulos
[206][207][208]
4 Oct. 15, 2019 8–11 pm 8.34 million live TV Rike Physical Education Center,
Otterbein University,
Westerville, Ohio
CNN
The New York Times
Erin Burnett
Anderson Cooper
Marc Lacey
[209][210][211][212][213]
5 Nov. 20, 2019 9–11 pm TBA Tyler Perry Studios,
AtlantaGeorgia
MSNBC
The Washington Post
Rachel Maddow
Andrea Mitchell
Ashley Parker
Kristen Welker
[214][215][216]
6 Dec. 19, 2019 TBA University of California, Los Angeles,
Los Angeles, California
Politico
PBS
TBA [217]
7 Jan.–Apr. 2020 TBA
8
9
10
11
12

Primary election polling[edit]

The following graph depicts the evolution of the standing of each candidate in the poll aggregators since December 2018.

Source of poll aggregation Date
updated
Dates
polled
Joe
Biden
Elizabeth
Warren
Bernie
Sanders
Pete
Buttigieg
Kamala
Harris
Andrew
Yang
Beto
O’Rourke
Amy
Klobuchar
Cory
Booker
Others Undecided[e]
270 to Win Oct 29, 2019 Oct 22 – 28, 2019[f] 27.6% 21.8% 18.2% 7.4% 5.4% 2.6% 2.0% 2.0% 1.8% 4.8%[g] 6.4%
RealClear Politics Oct 29, 2019 Oct 17 – 27, 2019 27.5% 21.7% 17.7% 7.2% 5.3% 2.5% 2.2% 2.0% 1.8% 4.8%[h] 7.3%
The Economist Oct 25, 2019 [i] 25.0% 24.3% 15.1% 6.6% 5.3% 2.8% 1.9% 2.1% 1.3% 3.8%[j] 11.8%
Average 26.7% 22.6% 17.0% 7.1% 5.3% 2.6% 2.0% 2.0% 1.6% 4.6%[k] 8.5%

Timeline[edit]

Overview[edit]

Active
campaign
Exploratory
committee
Withdrawn
candidate
Midterm
elections
Debate
Iowa
caucuses
Super
Tuesday
Democratic
convention
Richard Ojeda 2020 presidential campaign Eric Swalwell 2020 presidential campaign Mike Gravel 2020 presidential campaign John Hickenlooper 2020 presidential campaign Jay Inslee 2020 presidential campaign Seth Moulton 2020 presidential campaign Kirsten Gillibrand 2020 presidential campaign Bill de Blasio 2020 presidential campaign Tim Ryan 2020 presidential campaign Andrew Yang 2020 presidential campaign Marianne Williamson 2020 presidential campaign Elizabeth Warren 2020 presidential campaign Tom Steyer 2020 presidential campaign Joe Sestak 2020 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign Beto O'Rourke 2020 presidential campaign Wayne Messam 2020 presidential campaign Amy Klobuchar 2020 presidential campaign Kamala Harris 2020 presidential campaign Tulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaign John Delaney 2020 presidential campaign Julián Castro 2020 presidential campaign Pete Buttigieg 2020 presidential campaign Steve Bullock 2020 presidential campaign Cory Booker 2020 presidential campaign Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign Michael Bennet 2020 presidential campaign

2017[edit]

John Delaney was the first major candidate to announce his campaign, two and a half years before the 2020 Iowa caucus.

In the weeks following the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 election, media speculation regarding potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries began to circulate. As the Senate began confirmation hearings for members of the cabinet, speculation centered on the prospects of the “hell-no caucus”, six senators who went on to vote against the majority of Trump’s nominees. According to Politico, the members of the “hell-no caucus” were Cory BookerKamala HarrisKirsten GillibrandBernie SandersJeff Merkley, and Elizabeth Warren.[218][219] Other speculation centered on then-Vice-President Joe Biden making a third presidential bid following failed attempts in 1988 and 2008. Biden had previously served as U.S. senator from Delaware (1973–2009).[220]

2018[edit]

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was the second major Democratic candidate to announce his campaign.

In August 2018, Democratic Party officials and television networks began discussions as to the nature and scheduling of the following year’s debates and the nomination process.[223] Changes were made to the role of superdelegates, deciding to only allow them to vote on the first ballot if the nomination is uncontested.[224] The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced the preliminary schedule for the 12 official DNC-sanctioned debates, set to begin in June 2019, with six debates in 2019 and the remaining six during the first four months of 2020.

On November 6, 2018, the 2018 midterm elections were held. The election was widely characterized as a “blue wave” election. Mass canvassing, voter registration drives and deep engagement techniques drove turnout high. Despite this, eventual presidential candidates U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and State Senator Richard Ojeda of West Virginia both lost their respective races.[225]

August

  • August 25: The Democratic Party began planning debates[223] and eliminated first ballot decisive votes for superdelegates.[224]

November

December

2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced her candidacy on January 11, 2019.

Sen. Kamala Harris launched her bid on January 21, 2019.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched her bid on February 9, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his second campaign on February 19, 2019.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke launched his bid on March 14, 2019.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg launched his campaign on April 14, 2019.

Former Vice President Joe Biden launched his third campaign on April 25, 2019.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

  • September 4: A Climate Crisis Town Hall was held by CNN at New York City, New York.[301]
  • September 7: New Hampshire state convention: 19 candidates were in attendance and addressed the delegates.[302]
  • September 8: The Asian American Pacific Islanders Progressive Democratic Presidential Forum was held at Orange County, California by AAPI Victory Fund and by Asian Americans Rising.[303][304]
  • September 12: The third official debate took place in Houston, Texas at Texas Southern University,[305] aired on ABC and Univision.[306]
  • September 19–20: A Climate Forum was held in Washington, D.C. by MSNBCGeorgetown University, and Our Daily Planet.[307]
  • September 20: Bill de Blasio dropped out of the race.[103]
  • September 21: The Iowa People’s Presidential Forum was held in Des Moines, Iowa by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund and People’s Action.[308]

October

November

December

Primary and caucus calendar

Democratic primary and caucus calendar by currently scheduled date
February
March 3 (Super Tuesday)
March 10
March 17
March 24
April 4–7
April 28
May
June
No scheduled 2020 date

The following primary and caucus dates have been scheduled by state statutes or state party decisions, but are subject to change pending legislation, state party delegate selection plans, or the decisions of state secretaries of state:[324]

The 57 states, districts, territories, or other constituencies with elections of pledged delegates to decide the Democratic presidential nominee, currently plan to hold the first major determining step for these elections via 50 primaries[l] and seven caucuses (Iowa, Nevada, Wyoming, and four territories).[324] The number of states holding caucuses decreased from 14 in the 2016 nomination process to only three in 2020.[330][331]

National convention

The 2020 Democratic National Convention is scheduled to take place in MilwaukeeWisconsin on July 13–16, 2020.[332][333][334]

In addition to Milwaukee, the DNC also considered bids from three other cities: HoustonTexas;[335] Miami Beach, Florida;[336] and DenverColorado. Denver, though, was immediately withdrawn from consideration by representatives for the city, who cited scheduling conflicts.[337]

Endorsements

Campaign finance

This is an overview of the money being raised and spent by each campaign for the entire period running from January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2019, as it was reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Total raised are the sum of all individual contributions (large and small), loans from the candidate, and transfers from other campaign committees. The last column, Cash On Hand (COH), has been calculated by subtracting the “spent” amount from the “raised” amount, thereby showing the remaining cash each campaign had available for its future spending as of September 30, 2019. In total the candidates have raised $476,284,606.

 Withdrawn candidate
Candidate Campaign committee (January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2019)
Total raised Ind. contrib. ≤$200
donations
(as % of
ind.contrib)
Debt Spent COH
Bennet[338] $5,622,066 $4,910,561 34.12% $0 $3,758,466 $1,863,600
Biden[339] $37,785,261 $37,634,586 35.09% $0 $28,797,633 $8,987,628
Booker[340] $18,494,485 $15,513,702 27.82% $704,999 $14,270,696 $4,223,789
Bullock[341] $4,372,420 $4,359,670 32.59% $0 $3,006,276 $1,366,144
Buttigieg[342] $51,549,046 $51,462,291 47.48% $0 $28,170,528 $23,378,518
Castro[343] $7,625,531 $7,596,670 65.70% $0 $6,593,158 $672,333
Delaney[344] $27,198,228 $2,428,051 12.87% $10,593,250 $26,672,210 $548,061
Gabbard[345] $9,095,133 $6,543,517 64.43% $0 $6,596,642 $2,138,491
Harris[346] $36,940,238 $35,505,962 40.07% $991,069 $26,397,546 $10,542,692
Klobuchar[347] $17,516,388 $13,908,190 39.81% $0 $13,836,795 $3,679,592
Messam[348] $93,818 $93,818 29.76% $0 $62,666 $31,146
O’Rourke[349] $18,184,975 $17,483,014 51.94% $10,825 $15,122,336 $3,347,455
Sanders[350] $74,373,436 $61,456,335 69.64% $0 $40,639,360 $33,734,560
Sestak[351] $374,196 $366,293 23.12% $0 $169,634 $204,561
Steyer[352] $49,645,132 $2,047,433 72.41% $0 $47,021,989 $2,623,142
Warren[353] $60,339,647 $49,788,337 64.20% $0 $34,622,273 $25,717,674
Williamson[354] $6,125,025 $6,120,438 62.62% $48,921 $5,401,293 $723,732
Yang[355] $15,207,803 $15,140,993 66.25% $0 $8,840,508 $6,357,361
de Blasio[356] $1,417,610 $1,417,571 10.01% $0 $1,374,237 $43,374
Gillibrand[357] $15,919,261 $6,278,791 31.52% $0 $14,364,212 $1,555,049
Gravel[358] $330,059 $330,059 97.58% $0 $229,180 $100,879
Hickenlooper[359] $3,508,448 $3,385,459 16.63% $75,000 $3,500,980 $7,468
Inslee[360] $6,922,717 $6,911,292 50.00% $0 $6,631,300 $291,417
Moulton[361] $2,246,778 $1,497,325 22.87% $182,328 $2,187,344 $59,433
Ojeda[362] $119,478 $77,476 62.91% $44,373 $117,476 $2,002
Ryan[363] $1,315,130 $1,261,140 33.76% $28,225 $1,156,781 $158,349
Swalwell[364] $2,602,439 $892,373 38.14% $10,398 $2,593,289 $9,150

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up to:ab The overall number of pledged delegates is subject to change as possible penalty/bonus delegates (awarded for each states scheduled election date and potential regional clustering) are not yet included.[1]
  2. Jump up to:ab The number of extra unpledged delegates (superdelegates), who after the first ballot at a contested convention participates in any subsequently needed nominating ballots (together with the 3,769 pledged delegates), was expected to be 765 as of August 2019, but the exact number of superdelegates is still subject to change due to possible deaths, resignations, accessions, or potential election as a pledged delegete.[1]
  3. ^ Prior to the electoral reforms that took effect starting with the 1972 presidential elections, the Democrats used elite-run state conventions to choose convention delegates in two-thirds of the states, and candidates for the presidential nominee could be elected at the national convention of the party without needing to participate in any prior statewide election events.[13] Twenty-nine Democratic candidates announced their presidential candidacies prior to the 1924 Democratic National Convention,[14] and a record of 58 candidates received delegate votes during the 103 nominating ballots at that 17-day-long convention. In the post-reform era, over three-quarters of the states used primary elections to choose delegates, and over 80% of convention delegates were selected in those primaries.[13] For more information, see McGovern–Fraser Commission.
  4. Jump up to:abcd This individual is not a member of the Democratic Party, but has been the subject of speculation or expressed interest in running under this party.
  5. ^ Calculated by taking the difference of 100% and all other candidates combined
  6. ^ 270 to Win reports the date each poll was released, not the dates each poll was administered.
  7. ^ Gabbard with 2.0%; Steyer with 1.0%; Bennet and Castro with 0.6%; Williamson with 0.4%; Delaney with 0.2%; Bullock, Messam and Sestak with 0.0%
  8. ^ Gabbard with 1.5%; Steyer with 1.0%; Bennet and Castro with 0.7%; Ryan with 0.6%; Williamson with 0.3%; Bullock with 0.0%
  9. ^ The Economist aggregates polls with a trendline regression of polls rather than a strict average of recent polls.
  10. ^ Gabbard with 1.2%; Castro with 0.7%; Williamson and Steyer with 0.5%; Bennet with 0.4%; Delaney with 0.3%; Bullock with 0.2%; Messam and Sestak with 0.0%
  11. ^ Gabbard with 1.6%; Steyer with 0.8%; Castro with 0.7%; Bennet with 0.6%; Williamson with 0.4%; Delaney and Ryan with 0.2%; Bullock with 0.1%; Messam and Sestak with 0.0%
  12. ^ 5 out of 50 primaries are not state-run but party-run. “North Dakota Firehouse caucuses” is the official name of their event, but it’s held as a party-run primary and not a caucus in 2020. Democrats Abroad likewise conduct their election as a party-run primary, with their pledged delegates allocated at later conventions solely on basis of the proportional result of their party-run primary. The last three states with party-run primaries are Alaska, Kansas and Hawaii.[329][330]

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries

 

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Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019See the source imageOpinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists04-no-justice-hearing-li-600.jpg (600×429)See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

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Story 1: President Trump Retaliates Against Turkey’s Invasion of Syria by Imposing Economic Tariffs on Steel — Videos —

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The Kurds: The Most Famous Unknown People in the World | Stephen Mansfield | TEDxNashville

The Kurds are an ancient and noble people who are now the primary “boots on the ground” against ISIS in the Middle East. They are 35 million strong worldwide, the largest people group on earth without their own homeland. In this stirring talk, Stephen Mansfield tells the story of the Kurds and does so, surprisingly, through the lives of three women. Stephen Mansfield is a New York Times bestselling author who first rose to global attention with his groundbreaking book, The Faith of George W. Bush, a bestseller that Time magazine credited with helping to shape the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He has written celebrated biographies of Barak Obama, Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, Pope Benedict XVI, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Mansfield’s latest book, The Miracle of the Kurds, is a timely introduction to the Kurdish people that reached bookstores just as Kurdish troops began standing heroically against the evils of ISIS in the Middle East. The book has been named “Book of the Year” by Rudaw, the leading Kurdish news service. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Donald Trump vows to ‘obliterate’ Turkey’s economy if there’s ‘inhumane’ treatment of Kurds in Syria

President Trump answers questions about Syria, Turkey

Erdogan asks Arab League: ‘How many Syrians did you accept?’

Turkish forces clash with Kurdish fighters in Syria – BBC News

Graham rips ex-Obama officials’ criticism of Trump’s Syria pullout

Defense Secretary Esper defends Trump’s removal of troops from Northern Syria

Rand Paul slams GOP ‘war caucus’ criticizing Trump for Syria

Why are Americans surprised Trump withdrew troops from Syria?: Gaetz

After Trump Abandoned Kurds, Turkish Invasion Raises Fear of Kurdish Genocide & ISIS Resurgence

What is the Armenian Genocide?

An Armenian Genocide Survivor’s Story | Lucine Z. Kinoian | TEDxBergenCommunityCollege

Armenian genocide: survivors recall events 100 years on

Donald Trump says he is poised to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Erdogan continues military onslaught in Syria – as unrest helps nearly 800 ISIS brides and their children escape from a camp

  • President Trump said Sunday morning that he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey 
  • On Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area 
  • This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria
  • On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia
  • Syrian troops have been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive
  • Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing on Twitter that it’s ‘very smart not to be involved’ in the fighting on the Turkish border
  • More than 130,000 people have been displaced from northeast Syrian border towns as a result of fighting between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish militia 

President Trump says he is in talks with members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Turkish President Erdogan continues his attacks on Kurdish militia just one week after Trump pulled U.S. troops from the area.

‘Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey,’ Trump said in a tweet Sunday morning. ‘Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!’

This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria after a shelling by Turkish forces, the region’s Kurdish-led administration said Sunday. Syrian troops have now been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive.

Trump said Saturday that in response to the Turkish invasion, the U.S. will send $50million in emergency financial aid to Syria.

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose 'powerful sanctions' on Turkey

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for 'WORLD PEACE!'

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for ‘WORLD PEACE!’

The Kurdish-led administration said 785 foreigners affiliated with ISIS escaped Ain Issa (pictured), north of Raqqa, where they were being held following Turkish shelling today

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

The money will be sent to assist human rights groups and other organizations to ‘protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and advance human rights,’ according to a statement released Saturday night by the Office of the Press Secretary.

Trump spoke of the $50million in aid while at the Values Voters Summit’s Faith, family and Freedom gala dinner Saturday night.

‘Other presidents would not be doing that, they’d be spending a lot more money but on things that wouldn’t make you happy,’ he said. ‘The U.S. condemns the persecution of Christians and we pledge our support to Christians all over.’

The statement by the Office of the Press Secretary says the aid money ‘will also go toward increased accountability, removal of explosive remnants of war, community security for stabilization assistance, documenting human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations, and support for survivors of gender-based violence and torture.

‘We hope regional and international partners will continue their contributions as well. ‘Ensuring the freedom and safety of ethnic and religious minorities remains a top priority for this Administration.’

On Sunday, President Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Northern Syria, leaving the America’s Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion, calling it ‘very smart’ for the U.S. to ‘not be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change.’

‘Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?’ he added.

‘Do you remember two years ago when Iraq was going to fight the Kurds in a different part of Syria. Many people wanted us to fight with the Kurds against Iraq, who we just fought for. I said no, and the Kurds left the fight, twice. Now the same thing is happening with Turkey….’ he wrote.

‘The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!’

On Sunday, Syrian Kurdish officials said they will work with Assad forces to repel Turkish offensive and to liberate areas held by Turkey.

Also on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Turkey ‘appears to be ‘ committing war crimes in northern Syria.

‘It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks. Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,’ Esper said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Turkey-backed rebels capture city from Kurdish control

On Sunday Trump continued to defend his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing: 'Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change'

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Mortar shells land on Turkish side of border with Syria

The Kurdish-led administration said in a statement Sunday that 785 ISIS-affiliated foreigners had fled a camp at Ain Issa.

In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed rebels, the Kurdish-led administration said ‘mercenaries’ attacked the camp where ‘Daesh elements’ – a reference to Islamic State – in turn attacked camp guards and opened the gates.

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to show people running away from the camp.

Turkey’s cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara’s Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is now facing threats of possible sanctions from the U.S. unless it calls off the incursion.

Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

France also said today it was ‘worried’ to hear of the report that hundreds of relatives of foreign jihadists had escaped.

‘Of course we are worried about what could happen and that is why we want Turkey… to end as quickly as possible the intervention it has begun,’ government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told France 3 television.

Turkey-backed Syrian forces continue Syrian Kurdish fighters assault

On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia

On Saturday, Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that ISIS will ‘absolutely come back’ with the removal of U.S. troops from Syria.

‘ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover,’ Mattis told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press when asked if President Trump made the right decision by pulling troops from Northern Syria last week.

‘It’s in a situation of disarray right now,’ Mattis, who resigned as Secretary of Defense in January, said of the situation between Turkey and Syria. ‘Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. We’ll have to see if they can maintain the fight against ISIS. It’s going to have an impact. The question is how much.

‘We may want a war over; we may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ”enemy gets the vote”, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7568101/Trump-sends-50million-emergency-financial-assistance-Syria.html

David E. Sanger
Syrian army returns to northeast, as Turkey widens invasion
President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.The drama is nowhere near over. Out of necessity, the Kurds switched sides on Sunday, turning their backs on Washington and signing up with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a man the United States has called a war criminal for gassing his own people. At the Pentagon, officials struggled with the right response if Turkish forces — NATO allies — again opened fire on any of the 1,000 or so Americans now preparing to retreat from their positions inside Syria. Those troops are trapped for now, since Turkey has cut off the roads; removing them may require an airlift.

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)

“This president keeps blindsiding our military and diplomatic leaders and partners with impulsive moves like this that benefit Russia and authoritarian regimes,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat and longtime member of the Armed Services Committee.

“If this president were serious about ending wars and winning peace, he’d actually articulate a strategy that would protect against a re-emergence of ISIS and provide for the safety of our Syrian partners,” Mr. Reed added. “But he has repeatedly failed to do that. Instead, this is another example of Donald Trump creating chaos, undermining U.S. interests, and benefitting Russia and the Assad regime.”

The other major beneficiary is Iran, perhaps Mr. Trump’s most talked-about geo-political foe, which has long supported the Syrian regime and sought freer rein across the country.

But none of that appeared to have been anticipated by Mr. Trump, who has no fondness for briefing books and meetings in the Situation Room intended to game out events two or three moves ahead. Instead, he often talks about the trusting his instincts.

“My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” he said late last year. He was discussing the Federal Reserve, but could just as easily been talking foreign policy; in 2017 he told a reporter, right after his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, that it was his “gut feel” for how to deal with foreign leaders, honed over years in the real estate world, that guided him. “Foreign policy is what I’ll be remembered for,” he said.

But in this case the failure to look around corners has blown up on him at a speed that is rare in foreign policy and national security. The closest analogue may date back to 1950, during Harry Truman’s administration, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson described America’s new “defense perimeter” in a speech, saying it ran from southern Japan through the Philippines. That left out the Korean Peninsula, and two weeks later Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, appeared to have given Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current North Korean leader, permission to launch his invasion of the South. The bloody stalemate that followed lives with the United States today.

At the time, the United States kept a token force in South Korea, akin to the one parked along the Turkish-Syrian border. And it is impossible to know whether the North Korean attack would have been launched even without Mr. Acheson’s failure to warn about American action if a vulnerable ally was attacked — just as it is impossible to know if Mr. Erdogan would have sent his troops over the border if that phone call, and Mr. Trump’s failure to object, had never happened.

It was Mr. Trump himself who, during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, blamed President Barack Obama for a similar error. “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq,” he said, referring to the 2011 withdrawal. “They shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.”

Even his allies see the parallel. “If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet I thought it would be Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most vociferous defenders in recent years, but among his harshest Republican critics for the Syria decision, said last week.

As James F. Jeffrey, who worked for Mr. Obama as ambassador to Turkey, then to Iraq, and now serves as Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Syria, noted several years ago, it’s debatable whether events would have played out differently if the United States had stayed in Iraq.

Could a residual force have prevented ISIS’s victories?” he asked in a Wall Street Journal essay five years ago. “With troops we would have had better intelligence on al Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS, a more attentive Washington, and no doubt a better-trained Iraqi army. But the common argument that U.S. troops could have produced different Iraqi political outcomes is hogwash. The Iraqi sectarian divides, which ISIS exploited, run deep and were not susceptible to permanent remedy by our troops at their height, let alone by 5,000 trainers under Iraqi restraints.”

Mr. Trump may now be left to make the same argument about Syria: That nothing could have stopped Mr. Erdogan, that the Russians would benefit in any case, that there are other ways to push back at Iran. Perhaps history will side with him.

For now, however, he has given up most of what little leverage he had.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/trump-followed-his-gut-on-syria-calamity-came-fast/ar-AAILbg6#image=AAIqEBq|9

Story 3: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz kicked out of impeachment inquiry hearing

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., an ardent supporter of President Trump, got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.

Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment to reporters after being told he was not allowed to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony. Gaetz added that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was involved in the impeachment inquiry.

“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?”

Gaetz followed up his comments with a tweet calling the impeachment inquiry a kangaroo court and using one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for the intelligence committee chairman, “Shifty Schiff.”

“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”

Other Republicans closely aligned with Trump continued on Monday to complain about Schiff and his handling of the impeachment inquiry – with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also lambasting the California Democrat for excluding some congressional Republicans from the testimonies and for leaking “cherry-picked” information from the closed-door hearings to the press.

“She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people,” Jordan said of Schiff before Hill’s testimony.

TRUMP SAYS OBAMA ‘HIDING’ FROM QUESTIONS ABOUT BIDENS AND UKRAINE: ‘I THINK HE KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT’

Lee Wolosky, Hill’s attorney, tweeted on Monday that the former deputy assistant to the president had received a congressional subpoena.

“The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these up in these sessions,” Jordan said.

Hill’s testimony comes ahead of a planned Thursday appearance by Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, and follows the revelation of a cache of text messages from top envoys that provide a vivid account of their work acting as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Ukraine’s new president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to start investigations into a company linked to the family of a chief Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.

Sondland is set to tell lawmakers that he did understand the administration was offering Zelenskiy a White House visit in exchange for a public statement committing to investigations Trump wanted, according to the person, who demanded anonymity to discuss remarks not yet given.

But Sondland will say he did not know the company being talked about for an investigation, Burisma, was tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, the person said. Sondland understood the discussions about combating corruption to be part of a much broader and publicized Trump administration push that was widely shared, the person said.

 

One witness who may not be called before Congress is the still anonymous government whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats say testimony and evidence coming in from other witnesses, and even the president himself, are backing up the whistleblower’s account of what transpired during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy.

Lawmakers have also grown deeply concerned about protecting the person from Trump’s threats over the matter and may not wish to risk exposing the whistleblower’s identity.

Schiff said Sunday, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.” He added it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.

“Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/republican-rep-matt-gaetz-kicked-out-of-impeachment-inquiry-hearing

Story 2: Amazing Grace of Attorney General’s Defense of Religious Liberty — Videos

AG William Barr Nails The Destruction OF America’s Morality by “Militant Secularism”

US Attorney General William Barr – Notre Dame Speech

Why Has the West Been So Successful?

1. I Am the Lord Your God

2. No Other Gods

Religious Tolerance: Made in America

Were the Founders Religious?

Was America Founded to Be Secular?

Why We’re Losing Liberty

The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

Where Are the Moderate Muslims?

Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?

Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology

America’s Biggest Issues: Religious Freedom

The Left Ruins Everything

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Who Does the Media Most Want to Silence?

Why No One Trusts the Mainstream Media

Jordan Peterson on the Belief in God

Who Dares Say He Believes in God?

On Claiming Belief In God: Discussion with Dennis Prager

“Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom” with Donald Trump & Others (Opening)

Donald Trump makes speech to the UN general assembly

The Blaine Amendments: State Constitutions & School Choice

Blaine Amendments and “Sectarian” explained

Will the Supreme Court Strike Down the Blaine Amendment?

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame

South Bend, IN

~

Friday, October 11, 2019

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Tom, for your kind introduction. Bill and Roger, it’s great to be with you.

Thank you to the Notre Dame Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for graciously extending an invitation to address you today. I’d also like to express gratitude to Tony de Nicola, whose generous support has shaped – and continues to shape – countless minds through examination of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition.

Today, I would like to share some thoughts with you about religious liberty in America. It’s an important priority in this Administration and for this Department of Justice.

We have set up a task force within the Department with different components that have equities in this area, including the Solicitor General’s Office, the Civil Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, and other offices. We have regular meetings. We keep an eye out for cases or events around the country where states are misapplying the Establishment Clause in a way that discriminates against people of faith, or cases where states adopt laws that impinge upon the free exercise of religion.

From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.

The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as “a right towards men” but “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty….precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It has been over 230 years since that small group of colonial lawyers led a revolution and launched what they viewed as a great experiment, establishing a society fundamentally different than those that had gone before.

They crafted a magnificent charter of freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.

This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

In the 20th century, our form of free society faced a severe test.

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

As Father John Courtney Murray observed, the American tenet was notthat:

“Free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.”

How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

But they also include the guidance of natural law – a real, transcendent moral order which flows from God’s eternal law – the divine wisdom by which the whole of creation is ordered. The eternal law is impressed upon, and reflected in, all created things.

From the nature of things we can, through reason, experience, discern standards of right and wrong that exist independent of human will.

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We may not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualities in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of Homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

What we call “values” today are really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

Now, there have been times and places where the traditional moral order has been shaken.

In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

The consequences of moral chaos become too pressing. The opinion of decent people rebels. They coalesce and rally against obvious excess. Periods of moral entrenchment follow periods of excess.

This is the idea of the pendulum. We have all thought that after a while the “pendulum will swing back.”

But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.

Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.

The pervasiveness and power of our high-tech popular culture fuels apostasy in another way. It provides an unprecedented degree of distraction.

Part of the human condition is that there are big questions that should stare us in the face. Are we created or are we purely material accidents? Does our life have any meaning or purpose? But, as Blaise Pascal observed, instead of grappling with these questions, humans can be easily distracted from thinking about the “final things.”

Indeed, we now live in the age of distraction where we can envelop ourselves in a world of digital stimulation and universal connectivity. And we have almost limitless ways of indulging all our physical appetites.

There is another modern phenomenon that suppresses society’s self-corrective mechanisms – that makes it harder for society to restore itself.

In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path that it is on.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad fconsequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on which we depend.

Interestingly, this idea of the State as the alleviator of bad consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society.  It can be called the system of “macro-morality.”  It is in some ways an inversion of Christian morality.

Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.

The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.

This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at a parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C.  At the end of Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

A third phenomenon which makes it difficult for the pendulum to swing back is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.

Law is being used as weapon in a couple of ways.

First, either through legislation but more frequently through judicial interpretation, secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.

At first, this involved rolling back laws that prohibited certain kinds of conduct. Thus, the watershed decision legalizing abortion. And since then, the legalization of euthanasia. The list goes on.

More recently, we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith.

The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.

This reminds me of how some Roman emperors could not leave their loyal Christian subjects in peace but would mandate that they violate their conscience by offering religious sacrifice to the emperor as a god.

Similarly, militant secularists today do not have a live and let live spirit – they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.

For example, the last Administration sought to force religious employers, including Catholic religious orders, to violate their sincerely held religious views by funding contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health plans. Similarly, California has sought to require pro-life pregnancy centers to provide notices of abortion rights.

This refusal to accommodate the free exercise of religion is relatively recent. Just 25 years ago, there was broad consensus in our society that our laws should accommodate religious belief.

In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – RFRA. The purpose of the statute was to promote maximum accommodation to religion when the government adopted broad policies that could impinge on religious practice.

At the time, RFRA was not controversial. It was introduced by Chuck Schumer with 170 cosponsors in the House, and was introduced by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch with 59 additional cosponsors in the Senate. It passed by voice vote in the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate.

Recently, as the process of secularization has accelerated, RFRA has come under assault, and the idea of religious accommodation has fallen out of favor.

Because this Administration firmly supports accommodation of religion, the battleground has shifted to the states. Some state governments are now attempting to compel religious individuals and entities to subscribe to practices, or to espouse viewpoints, that are incompatible with their religion.

Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty.

For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.

For the government to interfere in that process is a monstrous invasion of religious liberty.

Yet here is where the battle is being joined, and I see the secularists are attacking on three fronts.

The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families.

Thus, for example, New Jersey recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Indeed, in some cases, the schools may not even warn parents about lessons they plan to teach on controversial subjects relating to sexual behavior and relationships.

This puts parents who dissent from the secular orthodoxy to a difficult choice: Try to scrape together the money for private school or home schooling, or allow their children to be inculcated with messages that they fundamentally reject.

A second axis of attack in the realm of education are state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally-available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.  Montana, for example, created a program that provided tax credits to those who donated to a scholarship program that underprivileged students could use to attend private school.  The point of the program was to provide greater parental and student choice in education and to provide better educations to needy youth.

But Montana expressly excluded religiously-affiliated private schools from the program.  And when that exclusion was challenged in court by parents who wanted to use the scholarships to attend a nondenominational Christian school, the Montana Supreme Court required the state to eliminate the program rather than allow parents to use scholarships for religious schools.

It justified this action by pointing to a provision in Montana’s State Constitution commonly referred to as a “Blaine Amendment.”  Blaine Amendments were passed at a time of rampant anti-Catholic animus in this country, and typically disqualify religious institutions from receiving any direct or indirect payments from a state’s funds.

The case is now in the Supreme Court, and we filed a brief explaining why Montana’s Blaine Amendment violates the First Amendment.

A third kind of assault on religious freedom in education have been recent efforts to use state laws to force religious schools to adhere to secular orthodoxy. For example, right here in Indiana, a teacher sued the Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis for directing the Catholic schools within his diocese that they could not employ teachers in same-sex marriages because the example of those same-sex marriages would undermine the schools’ teaching on the Catholic view of marriage and complementarity between the sexes.

This lawsuit clearly infringes the First Amendment rights of the Archdiocese by interfering both with its expressive association and with its church autonomy. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the state court making these points, and we hope that the state court will soon dismiss the case.

Taken together, these cases paint a disturbing picture. We see the State requiring local public schools to insert themselves into contentious social debates, without regard for the religious views of their students or parents. In effect, these states are requiring local communities to make their public schools inhospitable to families with traditional religious values; those families are implicitly told that they should conform or leave.

At the same time, pressure is placed on religious schools to abandon their religious convictions. Simply because of their religious character, they are starved of funds – students who would otherwise choose to attend them are told they may only receive scholarships if they turn their sights elsewhere.

Simultaneously, they are threatened in tort and, eventually, will undoubtedly be threatened with denial of accreditation if they adhere to their religious character.  If these measures are successful, those with religious convictions will become still more marginalized.

I do not mean to suggest that there is no hope for moral renewal in our country.

But we cannot sit back and just hope the pendulum is going to swing back toward sanity.

As Catholics, we are committed to the Judeo-Christian values that have made this country great.

And we know that the first thing we have to do to promote renewal is to ensure that we are putting our principles into practice in our own personal private lives.

We understand that only by transforming ourselves can we transform the world beyond ourselves.

This is tough work. It is hard to resist the constant seductions of our contemporary society. This is where we need grace, prayer, and the help of our church.

Beyond this, we must place greater emphasis on the moral education of our children.

Education is not vocational training. It is leading our children to the recognition that there is truth and helping them develop the faculties to discern and love the truth and the discipline to live by it.

We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing to the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.

The times are hostile to this. Public agencies, including public schools, are becoming secularized and increasingly are actively promoting moral relativism.

If ever there was a need for a resurgence of Catholic education – and more generally religiously-affiliated schools – it is today.

I think we should do all we can to promote and support authentic Catholic education at all levels.

Finally, as lawyers, we should be particularly active in the struggle that is being waged against religion on the legal plane.

We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. And God bless you and Notre Dame.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics

 

William Barr’s right about left’s designs on religious freedom

– The Washington Times – Thursday, October 17, 2019

As the Caribbean saying goes, “I chucked a rock in the pen and a pig squealed.”

This explains all the frenzied squealing and indignant grunting we heard in response to the speech Attorney General William Barr gave last week to law students at the University of Notre Dame about the increasing hostility toward religious liberty in America.

Mr. Barr raised alarm over “the force, fervor and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today.”

For anyone thinking this is some random force or natural course of history, he jolted a harsh warning.

“This is not decay. It is organized destruction,” he said.

“Secularists and their allies among the ‘progressives’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Anyone who missed the speech should find it and watch it. Anyone with a child in school should print out the speech and send it to him or her — or any of the other 16 genders schools are offering for students these days.

The smorgasbord of gender options inspires snorts of laughter among serious people, vexes anyone who believes in actual science and causes others to scoff and walk away.

But the infidels and infantiles who are running higher education today must be confronted with more than just laughter and dismissal. They are, after all, the ones destroying America by poisoning the minds of children. That is why the attorney general’s speech at Notre Dame is so important.

It is also why so many boars in the media took such offense to the speech and began squealing like a herd of mad swine racing for the lake.

One magazine cried that Mr. Barr is “neck deep in extremist Catholic institutions.”

For defending religious liberty?

Oh my. They make precisely William Barr’s point for him.

A major newspaper opined: “God is now Trump’s co-conspirator.” It was not meant as a compliment, again proving Mr. Barr’s point.

“Is this Barr’s cry for help?” pondered another major newspaper.

All the squealing proved not only Mr. Barr’s point about the rabid intolerance of religious liberty, but also that so many of the “intellectuals” in charge of American magazines and newspapers have already been poisoned by the nonsense and dishonesty dispensed by higher education these days.

These people are not only anti-religion, but they also are anti-science, anti-history and anti-liberty. Alexander Hamilton would weep if he knew the power these people now hold in his beloved republic.

Mr. Hamilton also would have applauded Mr. Barr’s speech. He and all the Founders would have recognized the speech as a flawless continuation of the endless debates they had about the nature of man, liberty and religion.

Picking up on the Founders’ discussion of man’s capacity for both “great good” and “great evil,” Mr. Barr said the “coercive power of government” cannot alone maintain a civil society. There must be other — more free and voluntary — guides of citizens’ behavior.

The notion of self-governance, he said, has dual meaning.

“It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.”

Particularly alarming to Mr. Barr is the lust with which secular zealots go after personal, private religion.

“Militant secularists today do not have a ‘live and let live’ spirit,” he said. “They are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.”

It is that very lust that leads political monsters to create untamable leviathans like Obamacare, which forces the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their most precious religious convictions.

Is it any surprise, then, to see citizens turn on one another with the same evil lust?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/oct/17/william-barrs-religious-hostility-speech-hits-sque/

 

 

Bill Barr ‘Gets’ Religion

The attorney general gives a speech on secularism, and the left goes bananas.

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists
Main Street: During a speech at Notre Dame law school on October 11, 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr explained how secularists are assaulting religious freedom in an effort to break down traditional moral values and instead impose their own orthodoxy. Image: Robert Franklin/Associated Press

For Notre Dame fans, this football weekend was a twofer. Not only did the Irish beat a longtime rival, the University of Southern California, on Saturday, the campus was treated to a sight it had never before seen: the attorney general of the United States, at a pregame tailgater, serenading faculty, students and fans with his bagpipes.

Turns out that was William Barr’s second performance on campus. The first came at the law school Friday, when he delivered a bracing speech on the role of religion in the American story of freedom.

The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.

“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”

Political ethicist and professional attention seeker Richard Painter tapped out a series of even more furious tweets, here calling the speech the latest episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” there suggesting Mr. Barr isn’t much of a Christian, here again saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” Over at MSNBC, meanwhile, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Joy Reid the attorney general is “Torquemada in a business suit,” a reference to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.

This is what we have come to expect when someone in public life mentions religion in a positive light. Many didn’t like Mr. Barr’s blaming secularism for social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males. Yet few engaged his more arresting contention, which is that all these problems have spiritual roots. Whereas religion addresses such challenges by stressing personal responsibility, Mr. Barr argued, the state’s answer is merely to try to alleviate “bad consequences.”

“So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion,” he said. “The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”

Vincent Phillip Muñoz, a Notre Dame professor, notes there was nothing particularly Catholic about this speech. Like Washington in his Farewell Address, he says, Mr. Barr focused on the irreplaceable role of religion in cultivating the morality citizens need to be capable of self-government.

“The speech wasn’t first and foremost about religious freedom,” says Mr. Muñoz. “It was about the human and social consequences of the new secular morality, and what happens when the state views its citizens not only in purely material terms, but as subjects who can’t really govern themselves.”

Even those who strongly disagree with Mr. Barr ought to have found this an invitation for thoughtful and vigorous debate. But rather than engage, some imply there is something unseemly about an attorney general’s even speaking at a Catholic university. Given the hostility that holding such a conversation engenders on campuses today, perhaps America can count itself fortunate it still has a university where this can happen.

Carter Snead, the law professor who invited Mr. Barr, puts it this way: “At Notre Dame, we are not afraid to explore the hard questions about God, religion and America together in friendship, especially on those matters about which people strongly disagree.”

Freedom of religion

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People praying to Lord Brahma, a Hindu deity, at the Erawan shrineBangkok

Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs.[1]

Freedom of religion is considered by many people and most of the nations to be a fundamental human right.[2][3] In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. Freedom of belief is different. It allows the right to believe what a person, group or religion wishes, but it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner.

History

Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wisdom protects the believers of all religions (Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791)

Historically, freedom of religion has been used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship has been defined as freedom of individual action. Each of these have existed to varying degrees. While many countries have accepted some form of religious freedom, this has also often been limited in practice through punitive taxation, repressive social legislation, and political disenfranchisement. Compare examples of individual freedom in Italy or the Muslim tradition of dhimmis, literally “protected individuals” professing an officially tolerated non-Muslim religion.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society.

In Antiquity, a syncretic point of view often allowed communities of traders to operate under their own customs. When street mobs of separate quarters clashed in a Hellenistic or Romancity, the issue was generally perceived to be an infringement of community rights.

Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire ca. 550 BC, and initiated a general policy of permitting religious freedom throughout the empire, documenting this on the Cyrus Cylinder.[4][5]

Some of the historical exceptions have been in regions where one of the revealed religions has been in a position of power: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. Others have been where the established order has felt threatened, as shown in the trial of Socrates in 399 BC or where the ruler has been deified, as in Rome, and refusal to offer token sacrifice was similar to refusing to take an oath of allegiance. This was the core for resentment and the persecution of early Christian communities.

Freedom of religious worship was established in the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India by Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC, which was encapsulated in the Edicts of Ashoka.

Greek-Jewish clashes at Cyrene in 73 AD and 117 AD and in Alexandria in 115 AD provide examples of cosmopolitan cities as scenes of tumult.

The Romans tolerated most religions, including Judaism and encouraged local subjects to continue worshipping their own gods. They did not however, tolerate Christianity until it was legalised by the Roman emperor Galerius in 311. The Edict of Milan guaranteed freedom of religion in the Roman Empire until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, which outlawed all religions except Christianity.

Muslim world

Following a period of fighting lasting around a hundred years before 620 AD which mainly involved Arab and Jewish inhabitants of Medina (then known as Yathrib), religious freedom for Muslims, Jews and pagans was declared by Muhammad in the Constitution of Medina. The Islamic Caliphate later guaranteed religious freedom under the conditions that non-Muslim communities accept dhimmi status and their adult males pay the punitive jizya tax instead of the zakat paid by Muslim citizens.[6] Though Dhimmis were not given the same political rights as Muslims, they nevertheless did enjoy equality under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.[7][8][9]

Religious pluralism existed in classical Islamic ethics and Sharia, as the religious laws and courts of other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism, were usually accommodated within the Islamic legal framework, as seen in the early CaliphateAl-AndalusIndian subcontinent, and the Ottoman Millet system.[10][11] In medieval Islamic societies, the qadi (Islamic judges) usually could not interfere in the matters of non-Muslims unless the parties voluntarily choose to be judged according to Islamic law, thus the dhimmi communities living in Islamic states usually had their own laws independent from the Sharia law, such as the Jews who would have their own Halakha courts.[12]

Dhimmis were allowed to operate their own courts following their own legal systems in cases that did not involve other religious groups, or capital offences or threats to public order.[13] Non-Muslims were allowed to engage in religious practices that were usually forbidden by Islamic law, such as the consumption of alcohol and pork, as well as religious practices which Muslims found repugnant, such as the Zoroastrian practice of incestuous “self-marriage” where a man could marry his mother, sister or daughter. According to the famous Islamic legal scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292–1350), non-Muslims had the right to engage in such religious practices even if it offended Muslims, under the conditions that such cases not be presented to Islamic Sharia courts and that these religious minorities believed that the practice in question is permissible according to their religion.[14]

Despite Dhimmis enjoying special statuses under the Caliphates, they were not considered equals, and sporadic persecutions of non-Muslim groups did occur in the history of the Caliphates.[15][16][17]

India

Ancient Jews fleeing from persecution in their homeland 2,500 years ago settled in India and never faced anti-Semitism.[18] Freedom of religion edicts have been found written during Ashoka the Great‘s reign in the 3rd century BC. Freedom to practise, preach and propagate any religion is a constitutional right in Modern India. Most major religious festivals of the main communities are included in the list of national holidays.

Although India is an 80% Hindu country, India is a secular state without any state religions.

Many scholars and intellectuals believe that India’s predominant religion, Hinduism, has long been a most tolerant religion.[19] Rajni Kothari, founder of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies has written, “[India] is a country built on the foundations of a civilisation that is fundamentally non-religious.”[20]

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader in exile, said that religious tolerance of ‘Aryabhoomi,’ a reference to India found in the Mahabharata, has been in existence in this country from thousands of years. “Not only Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism which are the native religions but also Christianity and Islam have flourished here. Religious tolerance is inherent in Indian tradition,” the Dalai Lama said.[21]

Freedom of religion in the Indian subcontinent is exemplified by the reign of King Piyadasi (304–232 BC) (Ashoka). One of King Ashoka’s main concerns was to reform governmental institutes and exercise moral principles in his attempt to create a just and humane society. Later he promoted the principles of Buddhism, and the creation of a just, understanding and fair society was held as an important principle for many ancient rulers of this time in the East.

The importance of freedom of worship in India was encapsulated in an inscription of Ashoka:

King Piyadasi (Ashok) dear to the Gods, honours all sects, the ascetics (hermits) or those who dwell at home, he honours them with charity and in other ways. But the King, dear to the Gods, attributes less importance to this charity and these honours than to the vow of seeing the reign of virtues, which constitutes the essential part of them. For all these virtues there is a common source, modesty of speech. That is to say, one must not exalt one’s creed discrediting all others, nor must one degrade these others without legitimate reasons. One must, on the contrary, render to other creeds the honour befitting them.

On the main Asian continent, the Mongols were tolerant of religions. People could worship as they wished freely and openly.

After the arrival of Europeans, Christians in their zeal to convert local as per belief in conversion as service of God, have also been seen to fall into frivolous methods since their arrival, though by and large there are hardly any reports of law and order disturbance from mobs with Christian beliefs, except perhaps in the north eastern region of India.[22]

Freedom of religion in contemporary India is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the nation’s constitution. Accordingly, every citizen of India has a right to profess, practice and propagate their religions peacefully.[23] Vishwa Hindu Parishad counters this argument by saying that evangelical Christians are forcefully (or through money) converting rural, illiterate populations and they are only trying to stop this.

In September 2010, the Indian state of Kerala‘s State Election Commissioner announced that “Religious heads cannot issue calls to vote for members of a particular community or to defeat the nonbelievers”.[24] The Catholic Church comprising Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites used to give clear directions to the faithful on exercising their franchise during elections through pastoral letters issued by bishops or council of bishops. The pastoral letter issued by Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) on the eve of the poll urged the faithful to shun atheists.[24]

Even today, most Indians celebrate all religious festivals with equal enthusiasm and respect. Hindu festivals like Deepavali and Holi, Muslim festivals like Eid al-FitrEid-Ul-AdhaMuharram, Christian festivals like Christmas and other festivals like Buddha PurnimaMahavir Jayanti, Gur Purab etc. are celebrated and enjoyed by all Indians.

Europe

Religious intolerance

Nineteenth century allegorical statue on the Congress Column in Belgium depicting religious freedom

Most Roman Catholic kingdoms kept a tight rein on religious expression throughout the Middle Ages. Jews were alternately tolerated and persecuted, the most notable examples of the latter being the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492. Some of those who remained and converted were tried as heretics in the Inquisition for allegedly practicing Judaism in secret. Despite the persecution of Jews, they were the most tolerated non-Catholic faith in Europe.

However, the latter was in part a reaction to the growing movement that became the Reformation. As early as 1380, John Wycliffe in England denied transubstantiation and began his translation of the Bible into English. He was condemned in a Papal Bull in 1410, and all his books were burned.

In 1414, Jan Hus, a Bohemian preacher of reformation, was given a safe conduct by the Holy Roman Emperor to attend the Council of Constance. Not entirely trusting in his safety, he made his will before he left. His forebodings proved accurate, and he was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415. The Council also decreed that Wycliffe’s remains be disinterred and cast out. This decree was not carried out until 1429.

After the fall of the city of Granada, Spain, in 1492, the Muslim population was promised religious freedom by the Treaty of Granada, but that promise was short-lived. In 1501, Granada’s Muslims were given an ultimatum to either convert to Christianity or to emigrate. The majority converted, but only superficially, continuing to dress and speak as they had before and to secretly practice Islam. The Moriscos (converts to Christianity) were ultimately expelled from Spain between 1609 (Castile) and 1614 (rest of Spain), by Philip III.

Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. His major aim was theological, summed up in the three basic dogmas of Protestantism:

  • The Bible only is infallible.
  • Every Christian can interpret it.
  • Human sins are so wrongful that no deed or merit, only God’s grace, can lead to salvation.

In consequence, Luther hoped to stop the sale of indulgences and to reform the Church from within. In 1521, he was given the chance to recant at the Diet of Worms before Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After he refused to recant, he was declared heretic. Partly for his own protection, he was sequestered on the Wartburg in the possessions of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, where he translated the New Testament into German. He was excommunicated by Papal Bull in 1521.

However, the movement continued to gain ground in his absence and spread to Switzerland. Huldrych Zwingli preached reform in Zürich from 1520 to 1523. He opposed the sale of indulgences, celibacy, pilgrimages, pictures, statues, relics, altars, and organs. This culminated in outright war between the Swiss cantons that accepted Protestantism and the Catholics. The Catholics were victorious, and Zwingli was killed in battle in 1531. The Catholic cantons were magnanimous in victory.[citation needed]

The defiance of Papal authority proved contagious, and in 1533, when Henry VIII of England was excommunicated for his divorce and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, he promptly established a state church with bishops appointed by the crown. This was not without internal opposition, and Thomas More, who had been his Lord Chancellor, was executed in 1535 for opposition to Henry.

In 1535, the Swiss canton of Geneva became Protestant. In 1536, the Bernese imposed the reformation on the canton of Vaud by conquest. They sacked the cathedral in Lausanne and destroyed all its art and statuary. John Calvin, who had been active in Geneva was expelled in 1538 in a power struggle, but he was invited back in 1540.

A U.S. postage stamp commemorating religious freedom and the Flushing Remonstrance

The same kind of seesaw back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism was evident in England when Mary I of England returned that country briefly to the Catholic fold in 1553 and persecuted Protestants. However, her half-sister, Elizabeth I of England was to restore the Church of England in 1558, this time permanently, and began to persecute Catholics again. The King James Bible commissioned by King James I of England and published in 1611 proved a landmark for Protestant worship, with official Catholic forms of worship being banned.

In France, although peace was made between Protestants and Catholics at the Treaty of Saint Germain in 1570, persecution continued, most notably in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day on 24 August 1572, in which thousands of Protestants throughout France were killed. A few years before, at the “Michelade” of Nîmes in 1567, Protestants had massacred the local Catholic clergy.

Early steps and attempts in the way of tolerance

The cross of the war memorial and a menorah coexist in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

The Norman Kingdom of Sicily under Roger II was characterized by its multi-ethnic nature and religious tolerance. Normans, Jews, Muslim Arabs, Byzantine Greeks, Lombards, and native Sicilians lived in harmony.[25][26][failed verification] Rather than exterminate the Muslims of Sicily, Roger II’s grandson Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1215–1250) allowed them to settle on the mainland and build mosques. Not least, he enlisted them in his – Christian – army and even into his personal bodyguards.[27][need quotation to verify][28][need quotation to verify]

Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic) enjoyed religious freedom between 1436 and 1520, and became one of the most liberal countries of the Christian world during that period of time. The so-called Basel Compacts of 1436 declared the freedom of religion and peace between Catholics and Utraquists. In 1609 Emperor Rudolf II granted Bohemia greater religious liberty with his Letter of Majesty. The privileged position of the Catholic Church in the Czech kingdom was firmly established after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Gradually freedom of religion in Bohemian lands came to an end and Protestants fled or were expelled from the country. A devout Catholic, Emperor Ferdinand II forcibly converted Austrian and Bohemian Protestants.[citation needed]

In the meantime, in Germany Philip Melanchthon drafted the Augsburg Confession as a common confession for the Lutherans and the free territories. It was presented to Charles V in 1530.

In the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V agreed to tolerate Lutheranism in 1555 at the Peace of Augsburg. Each state was to take the religion of its prince, but within those states, there was not necessarily religious tolerance. Citizens of other faiths could relocate to a more hospitable environment.

In France, from the 1550s, many attempts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants and to establish tolerance failed because the State was too weak to enforce them. It took the victory of prince Henry IV of France, who had converted into Protestantism, and his accession to the throne, to impose religious tolerance formalized in the Edict of Nantes in 1598. It would remain in force for over 80 years until its revocation in 1685 by Louis XIV of France. Intolerance remained the norm until Louis XVI, who signed the Edict of Versailles (1787), then the constitutional text of 24 December 1789, granting civilian rights to Protestants. The French Revolution then abolished state religion and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society.

Early laws and legal guarantees for religious freedom

Principality of Transylvania

In 1558, the Transylvanian Diet’s Edict of Torda declared free practice of both Catholicism and Lutheranism. Calvinism, however, was prohibited. Calvinism was included among the accepted religions in 1564. Ten years after the first law, in 1568, the same Diet, under the chairmanship of King of Hungary, and Prince of Transylvania John Sigismund Zápolya (John II.),[29] following the teaching of Ferenc Dávid,[30] the founder of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania,[31] extended the freedom to all religions, declaring that “It is not allowed to anybody to intimidate anybody with captivity or expelling for his religion“. However, it was more than a religious tolerance; it declared the equality of the religions, prohibiting all kinds of acts from authorities or from simple people, which could harm other groups or people because of their religious beliefs. The emergence in social hierarchy wasn’t dependent on the religion of the person thus Transylvania had also Catholic and Protestant monarchs, who all respected the Edict of Torda. The lack of state religion was unique for centuries in Europe. Therefore, the Edict of Torda is considered as the first legal guarantee of religious freedom in Christian Europe.[32]

Declaration, by Ferenc Dávid of Religious and Conscience Freedom in the Diet of Torda in 1568, painting by Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch

Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience: His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he – together with his realm – legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearings is by the word of God.

— Diet at Torda, 1568 : King John Sigismund[33]

Four religions (CatholicismLutheranismCalvinismUnitarianism) were named as accepted religions (religo recepta), having their representatives in the Transylvanian Diet, while the other religions, like the OrthodoxsSabbatariansand Anabaptists were tolerated churches (religio tolerata), which meant that they had no power in the law making and no veto rights in the Diet, but they were not persecuted in any way. Thanks to the Edict of Torda, from the last decades of the 16th Century Transylvania was the only place in Europe, where so many religions could live together in harmony and without persecution.[34]

This religious freedom ended however for some of the religions of Transylvania in 1638. After this year the Sabbatarians begun to be persecuted, and forced to convert to one of the accepted Christian religions of Transylvania.[35]

Habsburg rule in Transylvania

Also the Unitarians (despite of being one of the “accepted religions”) started to be put under an ever-growing pressure, which culminated after the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania (1691),[36] Also after the Habsburg occupation, the new Austrian masters forced in the middle of the 18th century the Hutterite Anabaptists (who found a safe heaven in 1621 in Transylvania, after the persecution to which they were subjected in the Austrian provinces and Moravia) to convert to Catholicism or to migrate in another country, which finally the Anabaptists did, leaving Transylvania and Hungary for Wallachia, than from there to Russia, and finally in the United States.[37]

Netherlands

In the Union of Utrecht (20 January 1579), personal freedom of religion was declared in the struggle between the Northern Netherlands and Spain. The Union of Utrecht was an important step in the establishment of the Dutch Republic (from 1581 to 1795). Under Calvinist leadership, the Netherlands became the most tolerant country in Europe. It granted asylum to persecuted religious minorities, such as the Huguenots, the Dissenters, and the Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal.[38] The establishment of a Jewish community in the Netherlands and New Amsterdam (present-day New York) during the Dutch Republic is an example of religious freedom. When New Amsterdam surrendered to the English in 1664, freedom of religion was guaranteed in the Articles of Capitulation. It benefitted also the Jews who had landed on Manhattan Island in 1654, fleeing Portuguese persecution in Brazil. During the 18th century, other Jewish communities were established at Newport, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Charleston, Savannah, and Richmond.[39]

Intolerance of dissident forms of Protestantism also continued, as evidenced by the exodus of the Pilgrims, who sought refuge, first in the Netherlands, and ultimately in America, founding Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1620. William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia, was involved in a case which had a profound effect upon future American laws and those of England. In a classic case of jury nullification, the jury refused to convict William Penn of preaching a Quaker sermon, which was illegal. Even though the jury was imprisoned for their acquittal, they stood by their decision and helped establish the freedom of religion.[citation needed]

Poland

Original act of the Warsaw Confederation1573. The beginning of religious freedom in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The General Charter of Jewish Liberties known as the Statute of Kalisz was issued by the Duke of Greater Poland Boleslaus the Pious on 8 September 1264 in Kalisz. The statute served as the basis for the legal position of Jews in Poland and led to the creation of the Yiddish-speaking autonomous Jewish nation until 1795. The statute granted exclusive jurisdiction of Jewish courts over Jewish matters and established a separate tribunal for matters involving Christians and Jews. Additionally, it guaranteed personal liberties and safety for Jews including freedom of religion, travel, and trade. The statute was ratified by subsequent Polish Kings: Casimir III of Polandin 1334, Casimir IV of Poland in 1453 and Sigismund I of Poland in 1539. Poland freed Jews from direct royal authority, opening up enormous administrative and economic opportunities to them.[40]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The right to worship freely was a basic right given to all inhabitants of the future Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth throughout the 15th and early 16th century, however, complete freedom of religion was officially recognized in 1573 during the Warsaw Confederation. Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth kept religious freedom laws during an era when religious persecution was an everyday occurrence in the rest of Europe.[41]

United States

Most of the early colonies were generally not tolerant of dissident forms of worship, with Maryland being one of the exceptions. For example, Roger Williams found it necessary to found a new colony in Rhode Island to escape persecution in the theocratically dominated colony of Massachusetts. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers, and the persecuting spirit was shared by Plymouth Colony and the colonies along the Connecticut river.[42] In 1660, one of the most notable victims of the religious intolerance was English Quaker Mary Dyer, who was hanged in Boston, Massachusetts for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony.[42] As one of the four executed Quakers known as the Boston martyrs, the hanging of Dyer on the Boston gallows marked the beginning of the end of the Puritan theocracy and New England independence from English rule, and in 1661 King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism.[43] Anti-Catholic sentiment appeared in New England with the first Pilgrim and Puritan settlers.[44] In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting any Jesuit Roman Catholic priests from entering territory under Puritan jurisdiction.[45] Any suspected person who could not clear himself was to be banished from the colony; a second offense carried a death penalty.[46] The Pilgrims of New England held radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas.[47] Christmas observance was outlawed in Boston in 1659.[48] The ban by the Puritans was revoked in 1681 by an English appointed governor, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became common in the Boston region.[49]

Freedom of religion was first applied as a principle of government in the founding of the colony of Maryland, founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore, in 1634.[50] Fifteen years later (1649), the Maryland Toleration Act, drafted by Lord Baltimore, provided: “No person or persons…shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof.” The Act allowed freedom of worship for all Trinitarian Christians in Maryland, but sentenced to death anyone who denied the divinity of Jesus. The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed during the Cromwellian Era with the assistance of Protestant assemblymen and a new law barring Catholics from openly practicing their religion was passed.[51] In 1657, the Catholic Lord Baltimore regained control after making a deal with the colony’s Protestants, and in 1658 the Act was again passed by the colonial assembly. This time, it would last more than thirty years, until 1692[52] when, after Maryland’s Protestant Revolution of 1689, freedom of religion was again rescinded.[50][53] In addition, in 1704, an Act was passed “to prevent the growth of Popery in this Province”, preventing Catholics from holding political office.[53] Full religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until the American Revolution, when Maryland’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the American Declaration of Independence.

Rhode Island (1636), Connecticut (1636), New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (1682) – founded by Protestants Roger Williams, Thomas Hooker, and William Penn, respectively – combined the democratic form of government which had been developed by the Puritans and the Separatist Congregationalists in Massachusetts with religious freedom.[54][55][56][57] These colonies became sanctuaries for persecuted religious minorities. Catholics and later on Jews also had full citizenship and free exercise of their religions.[58][59][60] Williams, Hooker, Penn, and their friends were firmly convinced that freedom of conscience was the will of God. Williams gave the most profound argument: As faith is the free work of the Holy Spirit, it cannot be forced on a person. Therefore, strict separation of church and state has to be kept.[61] Pennsylvania was the only colony that retained unlimited religious freedom until the foundation of the United States in 1776. It was the inseparable connection between democracy, religious freedom, and the other forms of freedom which became the political and legal basis of the new nation. In particular, Baptists and Presbyterians demanded the disestablishment of state churches – Anglican and Congregationalist – and the protection of religious freedom.[62]

Reiterating Maryland’s and the other colonies’ earlier colonial legislation, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed:

[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Those sentiments also found expression in the First Amendment of the national constitution, part of the United States’ Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The United States formally considers religious freedom in its foreign relations. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 established the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom which investigates the records of over 200 other nations with respect to religious freedom, and makes recommendations to submit nations with egregious records to ongoing scrutiny and possible economic sanctions. Many human rights organizations have urged the United States to be still more vigorous in imposing sanctions on countries that do not permit or tolerate religious freedom.

Canada

Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference. Canadian law goes further, requiring that private citizens and companies provide reasonable accommodation to those, for example, with strong religious beliefs. The Canadian Human Rights Act allows an exception to reasonable accommodation with respect to religious dress, such as a Sikh turban, when there is a bona fide occupational requirement, such as a workplace requiring a hard hat.[63] In 2017 the Santo Daime Church Céu do Montréal received religious exemption to use Ayahuasca as a sacrament in their rituals.[64]

International

On 25 November 1981, the United Nations General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. This declaration recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental human right in accordance with several other instruments of international law.[65]

However, the most substantial binding legal instruments that guarantee the right to freedom of religion that was passed by the international community is the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states in its Article 14: “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. – States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child. – Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”[66]

Contemporary debates

Theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs

In 1993, the UN’s human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.”[67] The committee further stated that “the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views.” Signatories to the convention are barred from “the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers” to recant their beliefs or convert. Despite this, minority religions still are persecuted in many parts of the world.[68][69]

Secular liberalism

A man posing for a print

Adam Smith argued in favour of freedom of religion.

The French philosopher Voltaire noted in his book on English society, Letters on the English, that freedom of religion in a diverse society was deeply important to maintaining peace in that country. That it was also important in understanding why England at that time was more prosperous in comparison to the country’s less religiously tolerant European neighbours.

If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace.[70]

Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations (using an argument first put forward by his friend and contemporary David Hume), states that in the long run it is in the best interests of society as a whole and the civil magistrate(government) in particular to allow people to freely choose their own religion, as it helps prevent civil unrest and reduces intolerance. So long as there are enough different religions and/or religious sects operating freely in a society then they are all compelled to moderate their more controversial and violent teachings, so as to be more appealing to more people and so have an easier time attracting new converts. It is this free competition amongst religious sects for converts that ensures stability and tranquillity in the long run.

Smith also points out that laws that prevent religious freedom and seek to preserve the power and belief in a particular religion will, in the long run, only serve to weaken and corrupt that religion, as its leaders and preachers become complacent, disconnected and unpractised in their ability to seek and win over new converts:[71]

The interested and active zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only where there is either but one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of each acting by concert, and under a regular discipline and subordination. But that zeal must be altogether innocent, where the society is divided into two or three hundred, or, perhaps, into as many thousand small sects, of which no one could be considerable enough to disturb the public tranquillity. The teachers of each sect, seeing themselves surrounded on all sides with more adversaries than friends, would be obliged to learn that candour and moderation which are so seldom to be found among the teachers of those great sects.[72]

Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the more broad-minded religions when it comes to religious freedom.[73] It respects the right of everyone to reach God in their own way. Hindus believe in different ways to preach attainment of God and religion as a philosophy and hence respect all religions as equal. One of the famous Hindu sayings about religion is: “Truth is one; sages call it by different names.”[73]

Judaism

Women detained at Western Wall for wearing prayer shawls; photo from Women of the Wall

Judaism includes multiple streams, such as Orthodox, Reform JudaismConservative JudaismReconstructionist JudaismJewish Renewal and Humanistic Judaism. However, Judaism also exists in many forms as a civilization, possessing characteristics known as peoplehood, rather than strictly as a religion.[74] In the Torah, Jews are forbidden to practice idolatry and are commanded to root out pagan and idolatrous practices within their midst, including killing idolaters who sacrifice children to their gods, or engage in immoral activities. However, these laws are not adhered to anymore as Jews have usually lived among a multi-religious community.

After the conquest of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea by the Roman Empire, a Jewish state did not exist until 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel. For over 1500 years Jewish people lived under pagan, Christian, Muslim, etc. rule. As such Jewish people in some of these states faced persecution. From the pogroms in Europe during the Middle Ages to the establishment of segregated Jewish ghettos during World War II. In the Middle East, Jews were categorised as dhimmi, non- Muslims permitted to live within a Muslim state. Even though given rights within a Muslim state, a dhimmi is still not equal to a Muslim within Muslim society, the same way non-Jewish Israeli citizens are not equal with Jewish citizens in modern-day Israel.

Possibly because of this history of long term persecution, Jews in modernity have been among the most active proponents of religious freedom in the US and abroad and have founded and supported anti-hate institutions, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. Jews are very active in supporting Muslim and other religious groups in the US against discrimination and hate crimes and most Jewish congregations throughout the US and many individual Jews participate in interfaith community projects and programs.

The State of Israel was established for the Jewish diaspora after World War II. While the Israel Declaration of Independence stresses religious freedom as a fundamental principle, in practice the current[timeframe?] government, dominated by the ultra-Orthodox segment of the population has instituted legal barriers for those who do not practice Orthodox Judaism as Jews. However, as a nation state, Israel is very open towards other religions and religious practices, including public Muslim call to prayer chants and Christian prayer bells ringing in Jerusalem. Israel has been evaluated in research by the Pew organization as having “high” government restrictions on religion. The government recognizes only Orthodox Judaism in certain matters of personal status, and marriages can only be performed by religious authorities. The government provides the greatest funding to Orthodox Judaism, even though adherents represent a minority of citizens.[75] Jewish women, including Anat Hoffman, have been arrested at the Western Wall for praying and singing while wearing religious garments the Orthodox feel should be reserved for men. Women of the Wall have organized to promote religious freedom at the Wall.[76] In November 2014, a group of 60 non-Orthodox rabbinical students were told they would not be allowed to pray in the Knesset synagogue because it is reserved for Orthodox. Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, said that he had submitted the request on behalf of the students and saw their shock when the request was denied. He noted: “paradoxically, this decision served as an appropriate end to our conversation about religion and state in Israel.” MK Dov Lipman expressed the concern that many Knesset workers are unfamiliar with non-Orthodox and American practices and would view “an egalitarian service in the synagogue as an affront.”[77] The non-Orthodox forms of Jewish practice function independently in Israel, except for these issues of praying at the Western Wall.

Christianity

Part of the Oscar Straus Memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring the right to worship

According to the Catholic Church in the Vatican II document on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, “the human person has a right to religious freedom”, which is described as “immunity from coercion in civil society”.[78] This principle of religious freedom “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion.”[78] In addition, this right “is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.”[78]

Prior to this, Pope Pius IX had written a document called the Syllabus of ErrorsThe Syllabus was made up of phrases and paraphrases from earlier papal documents, along with index references to them, and presented as a list of “condemned propositions”. It does not explain why each particular proposition is wrong, but it cites earlier documents to which the reader can refer for the Pope’s reasons for saying each proposition is false. Among the statements included in the Syllabus are: “[It is an error to say that] Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true” (15); “[It is an error to say that] In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship”; “[It is an error to say that] Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship”.[79]

Some Orthodox Christians, especially those living in democratic countries, support religious freedom for all, as evidenced by the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Many Protestant Christian churches, including some BaptistsChurches of ChristSeventh-day Adventist Church and main line churches have a commitment to religious freedoms. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also affirms religious freedom.[80]

However others, such as African scholar Makau Mutua, have argued that Christian insistence on the propagation of their faith to native cultures as an element of religious freedom has resulted in a corresponding denial of religious freedom to native traditions and led to their destruction. As he states in the book produced by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, “Imperial religions have necessarily violated individual conscience and the communal expressions of Africans and their communities by subverting African religions.”[81][82]

In their book Breaking IndiaRajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan discussed the “US Church” funding activities in India, such as the popularly advertised campaigns to “save” poor children by feeding, clothing, and educating them, with the book arguing that the funds collected were being used not so much for the purposes indicated to sponsors, but for indoctrination and conversion activities. They suggest that India is the prime target of a huge enterprise – a “network” of organizations, individuals, and churches – that, they argue, seem intensely devoted to the task of creating a separatist identity, history, and even religion for the vulnerable sections of India. They suggest that this nexus of players includes not only church groups, government bodies, and related organizations, but also private think tanks and academics.[83]

Joel Spring has written about the Christianization of the Roman Empire:

Christianity added new impetus to the expansion of empire. Increasing the arrogance of the imperial project, Christians insisted that the Gospels and the Church were the only valid sources of religious beliefs. Imperialists could claim that they were both civilizing the world and spreading the true religion. By the 5th century, Christianity was thought of as co-extensive with the Imperium romanum. This meant that to be human, as opposed to being a natural slave, was to be “civilized” and Christian. Historian Anthony Pagden argues, “just as the civitas; had now become coterminous with Christianity, so to be human – to be, that is, one who was ‘civil’, and who was able to interpret correctly the law of nature – one had now also to be Christian.” After the fifteenth century, most Western colonialists rationalized the spread of empire with the belief that they were saving a barbaric and pagan world by spreading Christian civilization.[84]

Islam

Conversion to Islam is simple, but Muslims are forbidden to convert from Islam to another religion. Certain Muslim-majority countries are known for their restrictions on religious freedom, highly favoring Muslim citizens over non-Muslim citizens. Other countries[who?] having the same restrictive laws tend to be more liberal when imposing them. Even other Muslim-majority countries are secular and thus do not regulate religious belief.[85][failed verification]

Islamic theologians[who?] quote the Qur’an (“There is no compulsion in religion”[2:256] and “Say: O you who reject faith, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship…To you be your religion, and to me be mine”[109:1–6], i.e., Sura Al-Kafirun) to show scriptural support for religious freedom.

Quran 2:190–194, referring to the war against Pagans during the Battle of Badr in Medina, indicates that Muslims are only allowed to fight against those who intend to harm them (right of self-defense) and that if their enemies surrender, they must also stop because God does not like those who transgress limits.

In Bukhari:V9 N316, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah narrated that a Bedouin accepted Islam and then when he got a fever he demanded that Muhammad to cancel his pledge (allow him to renounce Islam). Muhammad refused to do so. The Bedouin man repeated his demand once, but Muhammad once again refused. Then, he (the Bedouin) left Medina. Muhammad said, “Madinah is like a pair of bellows (furnace): it expels its impurities and brightens and clear its good.” In this narration, there was no evidence demonstrating that Muhammad ordered the execution of the Bedouin for wanting to renounce Islam.

In addition, Quran 5:3, which is believed to be God’s final revelation to Muhammad, states that Muslims are to fear God and not those who reject Islam, and Quran 53:38–39 states that one is accountable only for one’s own actions. Therefore, it postulates that in Islam, in the matters of practising a religion, it does not relate to a worldly punishment, but rather these actions are accountable to God in the afterlife. Thus, this supports the argument against the execution of apostates in Islam.[86]

However, on the other hand, some Muslims support the practice of executing apostates who leave Islam, as in Bukhari:V4 B52 N260; “The Prophet said, ‘If a Muslim discards his religion and separates from the main body of Muslims, kill him.”[87] However, many Muslims believe that this hadith was written in the context of war and therefore Prophet Muhammad stipulated that whichever Muslim rejects his religion, leaves from the main body of Muslims and betrays the Muslims in war should be executed as a punishment for his treachery towards the community of Muslims. So many Muslims believe that this hadith talks about the punishment of Treason.[citation needed]

In Iran, the constitution recognizes four religions whose status is formally protected: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.[88] The constitution, however, also set the groundwork for the institutionalized persecution of Bahá’ís,[89] who have been subjected to arrests, beatings, executions, confiscation and destruction of property, and the denial of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education.[88] There is no freedom of conscience in Iran, as converting from Islam to any other religion is forbidden.

In Egypt, a 16 December 2006 judgment of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt created a clear demarcation between recognized religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – and all other religious beliefs;[90][91] no other religious affiliation is officially admissible.[92]The ruling leaves members of other religious communities, including Bahá’ís, without the ability to obtain the necessary government documents to have rights in their country, essentially denying them of all rights of citizenship.[92] They cannot obtain ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, and passports; they also cannot be employed, educated, treated in public hospitals or vote, among other things.[92] See Egyptian identification card controversy.

Changing religion

Among the most contentious areas of religious freedom is the right of an individual to change or abandon his or her own religion (apostasy), and the right to evangelize individuals seeking to convince others to make such a change.

Other debates have centered around restricting certain kinds of missionary activity by religions. Many Islamic states, and others such as China, severely restrict missionary activities of other religions. Greece, among European countries, has generally looked unfavorably on missionary activities of denominations others than the majority church and proselytizing is constitutionally prohibited.[93]

A different kind of critique of the freedom to propagate religion has come from non-Abrahamic traditions such as the African and Indian. African scholar Makau Mutua criticizes religious evangelism on the ground of cultural annihilation by what he calls “proselytizing universalist faiths” (Chapter 28: Proselytism and Cultural Integrity, p. 652):

…the (human) rights regime incorrectly assumes a level playing field by requiring that African religions compete in the marketplace of ideas. The rights corpus not only forcibly imposes on African religions the obligation to compete – a task for which as nonproselytizing, noncompetitive creeds they are not historically fashioned – but also protects the evangelizing religions in their march towards universalization … it seems inconceivable that the human rights regime would have intended to protect the right of certain religions to destroy others.[94]

Some Indian scholars[95] have similarly argued that the right to propagate religion is not culturally or religiously neutral.

In Sri Lanka, there have been debates regarding a bill on religious freedom that seeks to protect indigenous religious traditions from certain kinds of missionary activities. Debates have also occurred in various states of India regarding similar laws, particularly those that restrict conversions using force, fraud or allurement.

In 2008, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a Christian human rights non-governmental organisation which specializes in religious freedom, launched an in-depth report on the human rights abuses faced by individuals who leave Islam for another religion. The report is the product of a year long research project in six different countries. It calls on Muslim nations, the international community, the UN and the international media to resolutely address the serious violations of human rights suffered by apostates.[96]

Apostasy in Islam

Legal opinion on apostasy by the Fatwacommittee at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the highest Islamic institution in the world, concerning the case of a man who converted to Christianity: “Since he left Islam, he will be invited to express his regret. If he does not regret, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law.”

In Islam, apostasy is called “ridda” (“turning back”) and is considered to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a “murtad fitri” (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a “murtad milli” (apostate from the community).[97]

In Islamic law (Sharia), the consensus view is that a male apostate must be put to death unless he suffers from a mental disorder or converted under duress, for example, due to an imminent danger of being killed. A female apostate must be either executed, according to Shafi’iMaliki, and Hanbali schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), or imprisoned until she reverts to Islam as advocated by the Sunni Hanafi school and by Shi’ascholars.[98]

Ideally, the one performing the execution of an apostate must be an imam.[98] At the same time, all schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that any Muslim can kill an apostate without punishment.[99]

However, while almost all scholars agree about the punishment, many disagree on the allowable time to retract the apostasy. Many scholars push this as far as allowing the apostate until he/she dies, making the death penalty more of a theoretical statement/exercise.[citation needed] S. A. Rahman, a former Chief Justice of Pakistan, argues that there is no indication of the death penalty for apostasy in the Qur’an.[100]

Secular law

Religious practice may also conflict with secular law, creating debates on religious freedom. For instance, even though polygamy is permitted in Islam, it is prohibited in secular law in many countries. This raises the question of whether prohibiting the practice infringes on the beliefs of certain Muslims. The US and India, both constitutionally secular nations, have taken two different views of this. In India, polygamy is permitted, but only for Muslims, under Muslim Personal Law. In the US, polygamy is prohibited for all. This was a major source of conflict between the early LDS Church and the United States until the Church amended its position on practicing polygamy.

Similar issues have also arisen in the context of the religious use of psychedelic substances by Native American tribes in the United States as well as other Native practices.

In 1955, Chief Justice of California Roger J. Traynor neatly summarized the American position on how freedom of religion cannot imply freedom from law: “Although freedom of conscience and the freedom to believe are absolute, the freedom to act is not.”[101] But with respect to the religious use of animals within secular law and those acts, the US Supreme Court decision in the case of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah in 1993 upheld the right of Santeria adherents to practice ritual animal sacrifice, with Justice Anthony Kennedy stating in the decision: “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection” (quoted by Justice Kennedy from the opinion by Justice Burger in Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division 450 U.S. 707 (1981)).[102]

In 2015, Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, refused to abide by the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing Same-sex marriage in the United States. When she refused to issue marriage licenses, she became embroiled in the Miller v. Davis lawsuit. Her actions caused attorney and author Roberta Kaplan to state that “Kim Davis is the clearest example of someone who wants to use a religious liberty argument to discriminate.”[103]

In 1962, the case of Engele v. Vitale went to court over the violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment resulting from a mandatory nondenominational prayer in New York public schools. The Supreme Court ruled in opposition to the state.[104]

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Abington School District v. Schempp. Edward Schempp sued the school district in Abington over the Pennsylvania law which required students to hear and sometimes read portions of the bible for their daily education. The court ruled in favor of Schempp and the Pennsylvania law was overturned.[105]

In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Epperson v. Arkansas. Susan Epperson, a high school teacher in Arkansas sued over a violation of religious freedom. The state had a law banning the teaching of evolution and the school Epperson worked for had provided curriculum which contained evolutionary theory. Epperson had to choose between violating the law or losing her job. The Supreme Court ruled to overturn the Arkansas law because it was unconstitutional.[106]

Children’s rights

The law in Germany provides the term of “religious majority” (Religiöse Mündigkeit) with a minimum age for minors to follow their own religious beliefs even if their parents don’t share those or don’t approve. Children 14 and older have the unrestricted right to enter or exit any religious community. Children 12 and older cannot be compelled to change to a different belief. Children 10 and older have to be heard before their parents change their religious upbringing to a different belief.[107] There are similar laws in Austria[108] and in Switzerland.[109]

International Religious Freedom Day

27 October is International Religious Freedom Day, in commemoration of the execution of the Boston martyrs, a group of Quakers executed by the Puritans on Boston Common for their religious beliefs under the legislature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1659–1661.[110] The US proclaimed 16 January Religious Freedom Day.[111]

Modern concerns

In its 2011 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom designated fourteen nations as “countries of particular concern”. The commission chairman commented that these are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers. The fourteen nations designated were Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Other nations on the commission’s watchlist include Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.[112]

There are concerns about the restrictions on public religious dress in some European countries (including the HijabKippah, and Christian cross).[113][114] Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights limits restrictions on freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs to those necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.[115] Freedom of religion as a legal concept is related to, but not identical with, religious toleration, separation of church and state, or secular state (laïcité).

Social hostilities and government restrictions

Freedom of religion by country (Pew Research Center study, 2009). Light yellow: low restriction; red: very high restriction on freedom of religion.

The Pew Research Center has performed studies on international religious freedom between 2009 and 2015, compiling global data from 16 governmental and non-governmental organizations–including the United Nations, the United States State Department, and Human Rights Watch–and representing over 99.5 percent of the world’s population.[116][117] In 2009, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population lived in countries classified as having heavy restrictions on freedom of religion.[116][117] This concerns restrictions on religion originating from government prohibitions on free speech and religious expression as well as social hostilities undertaken by private individuals, organisations and social groups. Social hostilities were classified by the level of communal violence and religion-related terrorism.

While most countries provided for the protection of religious freedom in their constitutions or laws, only a quarter of those countries were found to fully respect these legal rights in practice. In 75 countries governments limit the efforts of religious groups to proselytise and in 178 countries religious groups must register with the government. In 2013, Pew classified 30% of countries as having restrictions that tend to target religious minorities, and 61% of countries have social hostilities that tend to target religious minorities.[118]

The countries in North and South America reportedly had some of the lowest levels of government and social restrictions on religion, while The Middle East and North Africa were the regions with the highest. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran were the countries that top the list of countries with the overall highest levels of restriction on religion. Topping the Pew government restrictions index were Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Egypt, Burma, Maldives, Eritrea, Malaysia and Brunei.

Of the world’s 25 most populous countries, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan had the most restrictions, while Brazil, Japan, Italy, South Africa, the UK, and the US had some of the lowest levels, as measured by Pew.

Vietnam and China were classified as having high government restrictions on religion but were in the moderate or low range when it came to social hostilities. Nigeria, Bangladesh and India were high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions.

Restrictions on religion across the world increased between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. Restrictions in each of the five major regions of the world increased—including in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions where overall restrictions previously had been declining. In 2010, Egypt, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia, and Yemen were added to the “very high” category of social hostilities.[119] The five highest social hostility scores were for Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Bangladesh.[120] In 2015, Pew published that social hostilities declined in 2013, but the harassment of Jews increased.[118]

In the Palestinian territories, Palestinians face tight restrictions on practicing the freedom of religion due to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In a report published by the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, eyewitnesses reported systematic practices aiming at preventing young men and women from performing their prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. These practices include military orders issued by the Israeli Defense Army commander against specific Palestinians who have an effective role in Jerusalem, interrogating young men, and creating a secret blacklist of people who are prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.[121]

See also

References…

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion

Blaine Amendment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Blaine Amendment was first a failed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-eight of the fifty states adopted provisions of Blaine in their state constitutions. These provisions forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. They were designed to prohibit aid to parochial schools, especially those operated by the Catholic Church in locations with large immigrant populations.[1] The Blaine Amendment emerged from a growing consensus among 19th-century American Protestants that public education must be free from sectarian or denominational control, while it also reflected nativist tendencies hostile to immigrants.[2]

Contents

Proposed federal amendment

President Ulysses S. Grant (1869–77) in a speech in 1875 to a veteran’s meeting, called for a Constitutional amendment that would mandate free public schools and prohibit the use of public money for sectarian schools. He was echoing nativist sentiments that were strong in his Republican Party.[3][4]

Grant laid out his agenda for “good common school education.” He attacked government support for “sectarian schools” run by religious organizations, and called for the defense of public education “unmixed with sectarian, pagan or atheistical dogmas.” Grant declared that “Church and State” should be “forever separate.” Religion, he said, should be left to families, churches, and private schools devoid of public funds.[5]

After Grant’s speech Republican Congressman James G. Blaine (1830–1893) proposed the amendment to the federal Constitution. Blaine, who actively sought Catholic votes when he ran for president in 1884, believed that possibility of hurtful agitation on the school question should be ended.[6] In 1875, the proposed amendment passed by a vote of 180 to 7 in the House of Representatives, but failed by four votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote in the United States Senate. It never became federal law.

The proposed text was:

No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations.

Amendments to state constitutions

Supporters of the proposal then turned their attention to state legislatures, where their efforts met with far greater success. Eventually, all but 10 states (ArkansasConnecticutMaineMarylandNew JerseyNorth CarolinaRhode IslandTennesseeVermont, and West Virginia) passed laws that meet the general criteria for designation as “Blaine amendments,” in that they ban the use of public funds to support sectarian private schools.[7] In some states the provisions in question were included in newly drafted constitutions, rather than adopted as amendments to an existing constitution.

The state Blaine amendments remain in effect in many states.[8][9] In 2012, 46% of voters endorsed a measure repealing Florida’s Blaine amendment. A 60% margin was required for adoption.[10] Voters have also rejected proposals to repeal their state-level Blaine amendments in New York (1967), Michigan (1970), Oregon (1972), Washington state (1975), Alaska (1976), Massachusetts (1986), and Oklahoma (2016).[11][12]

On April 1, 1974, voters in Louisiana approved a new constitution by a margin of 58 to 42 percent,[13] which repealed the Blaine amendment that was part of that state’s 1921 constitution.[14] Louisiana’s current 1974 constitution replaced it with a copy of the federal First Amendment’s no-establishment and free exercise clauses, in Article 1, Sec. 8 of its Declaration of Rights; in Article 8, Sec. 13(a), it also guarantees the provision of free textbooks and “materials of instruction” to all children attending elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana.[15]

Two other states, South Carolina and Utah, have also watered down their “no-aid to religion” constitutional clauses by removing from them the word “indirect,” leaving only a prohibition of direct aid or assistance to religious schools in these states.[16]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz et al eds. (1999). Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics. Greenwood. p. 29.
  3. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz et al eds. (1999). Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics. Greenwood. p. 29.
  4. ^ Tyler Anbinder says, “Grant was not an obsessive nativist. He expressed his resentment of immigrants and animus toward Catholicism only rarely. But these sentiments reveal themselves frequently enough in his writings and major actions as general….In the 1850s he joined a Know Nothing lodge and irrationally blamed immigrants for setbacks in his career.” Anbinder, “Ulysses S. Grant, Nativist,” Civil War History 43 (June 1997): 119–41. online
  5. ^ Deforrest (2003)
  6. ^ Steven Green (2010). The Second Disestablishment : Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford University Press. p. 296.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ Olorunnipa, Toluse (November 6, 2012). “Florida voters reject most constitutional amendments, including ‘religious freedom’ proposal”Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  11. ^ “The 27 Statewide Referenda on School Vouchers or Their Variants, 1966-2007”. Americans for Religious Liberty. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  12. ^ “Oklahoma Public Money for Religious Purposes, State Question 790 (2016)”. Ballotpedia.
  13. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2017-05-28. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  14. ^ Art.4, Sec. 8, Constitution of Louisiana, 1921: “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such, and no preference shall ever be given, nor any discrimination made against, any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.”
  15. ^ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Louisiana_State__Constitution_(1974).
  16. ^ Article 11, Sec. 4 of the South Carolina Constitution states, “No money shall be paid from public funds nor shall the credit of the State or any of its political subdivisions be used for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.” And Utah’s constitution says, according to Article 10, Sec. 8, “Neither the state of Utah nor its political subdivisions may make any appropriation for the direct support of any school or educational institution controlled by any religious organization.” Regina Reaves Hayden, annotated by Steven K. Green, Esq. Stars in the Constitutional Constellation: Federal and State Constitutional Provisions on Church and State. Silver Spring, MD: Americans United Research Foundation, 1993, p. 109, 122.

Further reading

  • Deforrest, Mark Edward. “An Overview and Evaluation of State Blaine Amendments: Origins, Scope, and First Amendment Concerns,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 26, 2003 in Questia
  • Green, Steven K. “The Blaine Amendment Reconsidered,” 36 Am. J. Legal Hist. 38 (1992)

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaine_Amendment

Mr. Barr’s argument has been echoed throughout American history: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people” (John Adams). “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith” (Tocqueville). “In teaching this democratic faith to American children, we need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization. For ‘not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God’ shall our democracy be founded” (FDR). And so on.

That so many would become unhinged by Mr. Barr’s relatively modest contribution to the genre is highly revealing of the absolutism of secularist opponents determined to marginalize and destroy anyone who dares dissent from their own uncompromising orthodoxy.

 

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Image result for President Trump DECERTIFIES the Iran Nuclear Deal

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Story 1: Trump Administration Does Not Certify Iran Nuclear  Agreement If Congress Does Not Act — Videos —

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Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal, slaps sanctions on IRGC in broadside at ‘radical regime’

President Trump announced Friday he will decertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying he believes the “radical regime” has committed multiple violations of the agreement as he kicked a decision over whether to restore sanctions back to Congress.

“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough.”

Friday’s announcement does not withdraw the United States from the Iran deal, which the president called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated,” he said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president will use the Congressional Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to decertify the agreement, which was negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration.

Congress could then decide to restore sanctions, do nothing or make changes to the law. Trump is pressing Congress to work to fix the deal’s “flaws.”

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: WHAT IS IT?

In making his decision, Trump said, “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Among other alleged violations, Trump said Iran failed to meet expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges and intimidated international inspectors into not using their full authority.

The president also slammed sunset provisions in the deal itself, complaining that the U.S. got a “weak inspection” in exchange for a “short-term” delay in Iran’s nuclear progress.

Trump, meanwhile, announced plans to take action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, authorizing the Treasury Department to impose targeted sanctions against “its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

“Execution of our strategy begins with a long overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Trump said. “The revolutionary guard is the Iranian supreme leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

In his broadside against the Iranian regime, the president said it “remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” accusing it of providing assistance to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.

The president accused Iran of developing missiles that threaten American troops and allies and imprisoning Americans “on false charges.”

“Given the regime’s murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future,” Trump said. “The regimes two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’”

The president did not designate the IRGC a terrorist group, something that had been rumored ahead of the announcement. In the run-up to the decision, Iranian officials threatened consequences if that occurred.

“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world,” IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said Sunday, according to Reuters.

The National Resistance Council of Iran, an offshoot organization of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), praised Trump’s move in support of the de-certification.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), welcomed the new U.S. policy to “condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights” in Iran.

“The regime’s deadly meddling in the region and concessions made to it in the course of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) have been disastrous, and for which the people of Iran and the region have paid heavily,” Rajavi said in a statement provided to Fox News.

“The IRGC is a prime means of suppression, execution, and torture in Iran, spreading terrorism throughout the world, war mongering and massacre in the region, the drive for acquiring nuclear weapons, and the increase in the proliferation of ballistic missiles,” she said. “If the IRGC had been recognized as a terrorist entity earlier and dealt with accordingly, the current situation in the region in general, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Afghanistan in particular, would have been totally different.”

Trump had been facing a Sunday deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is complying with the accord.

Republicans are calling for new legislation that addresses the “flaws” of the agreement.

“Lawmakers need to do now what we couldn’t do two years ago: unite around an Iran strategy that truly stops Iran’s nuclear weapons program and empowers the United States and our allies to combat the full spectrum of Iran’s imperial aggression,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement.

Democrats accused the president of making matters worse. Former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, who helped sell the Iran deal, said the president is “provoking” a crisis with his speech.

“Hard to overstate how irresponsible it is for Trump to risk blowing up Iran Deal by demanding rest of world justify his campaign rhetoric,” Rhodes tweeted.

Fox News’ Serafin Gomez, Mike Emanuel and Perry Chiaramonte and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/13/trump-to-decertify-iran-nuclear-deal.html

Trump says he has decided to decertify Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement on Friday in defiance of other world powers, choosing not to certify that Tehran is complying with the deal.

“Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said at a White House event as he unveiled a tougher strategy against Tehran.

Trump’s move does not pull the United States out of the agreement, formally known as the JCPOA. (Reporting by James Oliphant; Writing by Tim Ahmann and Makini Brice; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4978524/Trump-says-decided-decertify-Iran-nuclear-deal.html#ixzz4vS0Hglgq

Bolton: ‘Unfixable’ Iran Deal Must Be Abandoned

Image: Bolton: 'Unfixable' Iran Deal Must Be Abandoned
Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (Alex Brandon/AP)

By Brian Freeman   |   Monday, 16 Oct 2017 03:27 PM

 Arguments over the Iran deal have been dominated by peripheral issues, and obscured the fact there are no real “fixes” that can be made to turn it into a good agreement, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton wrote in a Monday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Now that President Donald Trump has announced the U.S. will stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while refusing to certify under American law the deal is in the national interest, Congress will have to decide what next step to take, with many offering proposed changes.

Bolton insisted it should be remembered for those who say the agreement must be preserved because Iran is not violating the deal “it is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests.”

 Such an example, he said, was President George W. Bush’s notice of withdrawal in 2001 from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, even though it was not clear Russia was violating it. What was important was the agreement was no longer strategically wise for the U.S.

Bolton said the Western powers’ collapse from their original insistence it would not even negotiate unless Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activity was a grave error, because regardless of the treaty’s limits, “Iran benefits from continued enrichment, research and development by expanding the numbers of scientists and technicians it has with firsthand nuclear experience, [which] will be invaluable to the ayatollahs come the day they disdain any longer to conceal their real nuclear strategy.”

 

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (H.R. 1191Pub.L. 114–17) is a bill that was passed by the US Congress in May 2015, giving Congress the right to review any agreement reached in the P5+1 talks with Iran aiming to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The bill passed in the Senate by 98 to 1 (only Tom Cotton voted against), and then passed in the House by a vote of 400 to 25 on May 14.[1] President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the bill, but eventually a version was arrived at that had enough support to override any veto and Obama did not try to veto it.

Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit, alleging that the law as an unconstitutional abrogation of the Senate’s Treaty Power. The lawsuit was dismissed for lack of standing.[2]

See also

References