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President Barack Obama was a professed supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. One of the thing he pushed for was a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants illegally residing in the United States. In spite of these intentions on the part of the President however, Congress did not pass a comprehensive immigration bill during Obama's two terms in office. In order to achieve some of his goals for immigration reform, President Obama used executive orders and other action.

In the 2010 "lame-duck" session of Congress, Obama pushed for passage of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was legislation proposing a process for undocumented immigrants in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and if these applicants met further qualifications, permanent residency.The bill was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, and has since been reintroduced several times, but has never passed. The 2010 version of the DREAM Act passed the House but failed to overcome a Senate filibuster in a 55-41 vote in favor of the bill. Later, in 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill with a path to citizenship, but the House did not vote on the bill.

In 2012, President Obama implemented a policy known as DACA ("Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals"). This policy protected roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants from deportation. It applies only to those who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday. Two years later, in 2014, Obama announced a new executive order that would have protected another four million illegal immigrants from deportation. That order was blocked by the Supreme Court in a 4-4 tie vote that upheld a lower court's ruling.

Despite executive actions to protect some individuals, deportations of illegal immigrants continued under Obama. A record high of 400,000 deportations occurred in 2012. The number of deportations fell during Obama's second term. The percentage of foreign-born people living in the United States reached 13.7% in 2015, higher than at any point since the early 20th century. After having risen since 1990, the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States had stabilized at around 11.5 million individuals during Obama's presidency, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007.

In March 2014, halfway into his second term, Obama was attending a gala for immigration advocates at which Janet Murguía, president of the National Council on La Raza (NCLR), publicly criticized the President for not doing enough for immigration reform. Murguria acknowledged that congressional Republicans were responsible for blockading comprehensive immigration reform, but she told the President that she did not see him as entirely blameless for her community's disappointment on the issue. She said "For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief." Her criticism came from one of the largest Latino advocacy groups in the country. Many NCLR leaders had become advisers in the Obama White House.

Murguía's address framed the dilemma that President Obama found himself in when it came to the issue of immigration. On the one hand he faced growing public outrage for not doing enough to combat illegal immigration. But on the other hand, he was also confronted by a growing Latino voting bloc with political clout, that was becoming disillusioned with Obama over the rising number of deportations.

At the end of this two terms in office, Obama was unable to pass comprehensive immigration, primarily due to opposition in Congress. He set a precedent in creating DACA, which resulted in more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers receiving temporary work permits and protection from deportation. However more immigrants were forcibly removed from the United States during the Obama administration than any other president (over 2.8 million undocumented immigrants were deported in that time).

As the nation transitioned from an Obama presidency to the administration of Donald Trump, immigration reform advocates have expressed concerns that Trump will use the most aggressive pieces of the current administration's enforcement apparatus to accelerate the number of deportations. Greisa Martinez, advocacy director for pro-immigrant group United We Dream, has said "There is a vast network of a deportation structure that will now facilitate Trump's move to deport millions of people more."

One of the other criticisms of the Obama administration is is reversing its position on the controversial practice of detaining immigrant women and children, even asylum seekers. At first, Obama abandoned the controversial policy in 2009. But the Obama administration later reversed their position on this issue after a surge in migrants, especially children, occurred.

On November 20, 2014, in a televised address from the White House, Barack Obama announced a program of "deferred action" which would allow roughly 45% of illegal immigrants to legally stay and work in the United States. The largest prior deferral action occurred in 1990, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Under Obama's proposal, up to 3.7 million undocumented parents of individuals who are U.S. citizens, or who have been legal permanent residents in the country for at least five years, became eligible for the new deferrals. Also eligible were about 300,000 immigrants who arrived in the US as children before January 2010. Members of this second group would be eligible by expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which previously covered 1.2 million people, the expansion bringing the new coverage total to 1.5 million. The new deferrals would be granted for three years at a time. Supplemental executive actions also announced include an end to the Secure Communities program, increased resources for border enforcement, and new procedures for "high-skilled immigrants". In his televised address, the President said:

"By acting where Congress has failed, I hope to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary."

The plan was stymied on December 16, 2014, when Arthur J. Schwab, a United States federal judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, ruled that President Obama's executive action on immigration was unconstitutional. That case involved a Honduran man facing criminal charges for returning to the United States after being deported. On December 4, 2014, a more direct challenge was filed in federal court by the attorney general of Texas, on behalf of 17 states. By January 26, 2015, the number of states participating in the lawsuit had grown to 26.

On February 12, in testimony before the House of Representatives, state officials from Ohio and Kansas alleged that, due to the actions of the Obama Administration, it was difficult to determine whether illegal immigrants had registered to vote. Voter fraud became a concern for some members of Congress, who argued that Obama's program had increased the potential for such fraud occurring.

On February 16, 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, issued a temporary injunction against the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. The next day, February 17, 2015, just one day before undocumented immigrants were set to begin applying for work permits and legal protections, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced a delay in implementing the DAPA program. He also said that the government planned to appeal the district court ruling.

The appeal was heard on an expedited basis by three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on July 10, 2015. On November 9, the divided circuit court affirmed the preliminary injunction of February 2015, and ordered the case back to the district court in Texas for trial. Judge Jerry Edwin Smith, joined by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod agreed with the district court that Texas has standing because of the cost of issuing drivers licenses to aliens, and that President Obama’s order violated the rulemaking requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act. The majority held that the Immigration and Nationality Act “flatly does not permit” deferred action. Judge Carolyn Dineen King dissented.

On November 20, 2015, the United States Department of Justice appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court. On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case. In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on June 23, leaving in place the appeals court ruling blocking Obama's executive actions.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, one of the immigration measures implemented in response by the administration of President George W. Bush was the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (or NSEERS). This was a system for registering certain non-citizens within the United States. It began in September of 2002 as part of the War on Terror.

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This system had two parts to it. The first was a port-of-entry registration system for those non-citizens entering the country and the second was a domestic registration for those who were already here. In each case, those who registered were fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed. They were required to provide detailed information about their plans and to update Immigration and Customs Enforcement if their plans changed. They were only permitted to enter and depart the U.S. through designated ports of entry.

The Bush administration started the program in September 2002. A goal of the program was to increase screening of travelers from specific countries. Because a majority of these countries were predominantly Muslim cultures, the American Civil Liberties Union accused the Bush administration of using the program to unjustly target individuals based on their religion. This was denied by the government. In January 2003, Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said NSEERS helped law enforcement authorities apprehend 330 "known criminals" and 3 "known terrorists”. The Bush administration was requesting Congress to provide $16.8 million per fiscal year for the program. The program remained in effect until 2011, but as of December of 2016, critics of the program claim the no known terrorism convictions have resulted from the program.

By January 2003, at least 138,000 individuals were registered in NSEERS, according to the Department of Homeland Security to Congress, and by May, 2003, 82,581 individuals had complied with the domestic portion of the program. Of these, at least 13,153 were placed in deportation proceedings. At first the program required subjects to re-register annually, but the Department of Homeland Security later eliminated this requirement.

Critics of the program called it profiling on the basis of ethnicity and religion, noting that 24 of the 25 countries included on the list were predominantly Muslim nations. The ACLU complained that the program was ineffective. They claim that it producing no terrorism-related convictions in the 93,000 cases it created. They said that it was unlikely to locate any members of Al Qaeda.

The system was discontinued in 2011 under the Obama administration. The Department of Homeland Security said that the registration system had become outdated because of new technology. It was indefinitely suspended as of April 27, 2011, when the US-VISIT program was instituted as its replacement. The NSEERS regulations remain in place in the event a special registration program is required in future.

On November 22, 2016 the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, supported by nearly 200 organizations, wrote to President Barack Obama, calling on his administration to rescind the regulatory framework behind NSEERS. The 200 organizations were groups active in civil and human rights, civil liberties, education, social justice, and inter-faith organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Human Rights, American Immigration Council, Center for American Progress, National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The letter called for removal of the NSEERS framework and asked that "the Administration to immediately take steps to remove the regulatory structure of NSEERS and stop any future use of the program."

The registration system was ordered to be removed near the end of the President Obama's second term 2016. Because the order occurred within the last 60 days of the President's term, it is subject to Congressional review.

Port-of-entry registration was required for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria (including those that were born in these countries but have a passport from a different country). Non-citizens who were in the United States on or prior to September 10, 2002, were required to register in person at an INS office. This procedure was required of males over the age of sixteen who entered the United States legally on particular types of visa (primarily student, work, and tourist) from certain countries. Countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Kuwait.
Veteran author and self-described "conspiracy theorist" Roger Stone is the first out of the gate with this post-election season's round of post-mortems of the 2016 campaign in his January 2017 book The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution. Stone is the guy who accused Lyndon Johnson of being the "mastermind" behind the JFK assassination. He's also a long-time Trump supporter, and without apology or seeing this as any sort of negative, he highlights the strong similarities between his guy and Richard Nixon, not because of any common paranoid tendencies, but because of Nixon's ability to draw support from "the silent majority", something that Stone argues accounts for Trump's surprising victory.

This book really has four gears: (1) one in which Stone chronicles the 2016 presidential campaign (including the primaries and nomination process for both parties); (2) Stone's analysis of why Donald Trump won (more so why Hillary Clinton lost); (3) portions where Stone smites his political enemies (mainly Republican insiders like Ted Cruz and campaign consultant Ed Rollins, as well as mercurial Trump supporter Corey Lewandowski), and (4) sections of the book where Stone makes the circumstantial case for a number of serious allegations. (These included Bill Clinton's alleged paternity of African-American Danney Williams, accusations of criminal conduct on the part of the Clinton Foundation, as well as accusations that Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, was a spy for Saudi Arabia.) The latter two "gears" are the least enjoyable sections of the book. It is in the former two where most of the lessons from the 2016 election can be learned.

Stone argues that, failing to learn from the lessons of 2008, the Clinton campaign stressed its candidate's experience at a time when what the nation really wanted was change. Voters were angry with the status quo and with career politicians. He cites the fundamental mistake of the Clinton brain-trust as being that it assumed it would retain the same support that Barack Obama had in the two previous elections, failing to appreciate growing voter dissatisfaction with declining incomes, job losses due to outsourcing, the failure to make Wall Street accountable for corporate greed, and fear of the future as many Americans neared retirement. Stone argues that all of this mattered more to voters than political correctness. It is ironic that a billionaire real estate investor was the candidate best able to profit electorally from anger over growing income disparity. But voters showed an intense distrust of Washington politicians on whose watch these problems continued to worsen, and by understanding what was really on voters' minds, Stone makes the case that Trump was able to draw enough support from former Obama voters, especially in blue-collar regions of traditional blue states.

Stone also explains why election polling was wrong, operating on the flawed assumption that voter turnout would match the demographics that it did in the two previous elections. He says that Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio's model was more in tune with the final results, because Fabrizio saw what others missed. It was Fabrizio who saw a path to victory in midwestern industrial states previously written off and who urged Trump to double-down on them, advice that proved to be prescient.

Stone also addresses the controversial issues of alleged Russian interference in the election, as well as mainstream media bias, calling the consistent reports that Trump could not win the election "the biggest piece of fake news". Stone argues that the effect of internet news sources are underestimated, and also notes how Trump himself had the ability to change the narrative on any story "in 140 characters or less" through his use of Twitter. Stone also rejects the suggestion that Trump's loss of the popular vote delegitimizes his presidency, noting that all of this difference can be found in California and New York, and that the Trump campaign strategized to win the electoral college, playing by the rules that the Constitution provides.

One weakness of this book is that while Stone constantly points out the negatives of having Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate, a central theme of this book, very little is said about Donald Trump's positives. Stone simply concludes that Trump is a winner. But he cautions that unless Trump shuns Washington insiders and GOP establishment in favor of fresh thinkers who lack either DC or Wall Street greed motivators, the 45th President is less likely to succeed. He likens Trump to Harry Truman, someone who ignored predictions that it was impossible for him to win, and who won the presidency by plain speaking and by listening to what voters had to say rather than by telling them what they should think.


This book will raise the blood pressure of Clinton supporters and Trump opponents. It's target audience is mainly Trump supporters. But for those wanting to take a dispassionate and objective look at what just happened, with a view to learning from the past, it is an interesting analysis of how the Trump campaign snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, provided that one is willing and able to discern those parts of the book that are an accurate chronicle of the election from those parts in which the author makes his less convincing arguments.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (also known as the Hart-Cellar Act) was a piece of legislation passed during the Johnson administration changed the way immigration quotas were set. It ended the National Origins Formula that had been in place since 1921, abolishing the quota system based on national origins that had been the existing American immigration policy. The new law maintained the per-country limits, but it also created preference visa categories that focused on immigrants' skills and family relationships with citizens or U.S. residents. The bill also limited the number of visas issued at 170,000 per year, with a per-country-of-origin quota, but these did not apply to relatives of U.S. citizens.

Previously,the law restricted immigration from Asia and Africa, and gave preference to northern and western Europeans over southern and eastern Europeans. In the 1960s, the United States faced pressures to change its nation-based formula. In 1952, President Harry Truman had directed the Commission on Immigration and Naturalization to investigate and report on the current immigration regulations. The commission produced a report, entitled "Whom We Shall Welcome" and it formed the basis of the Hart–Celler Act. President John F. Kennedy called the quota system "nearly intolerable" and after Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson followed up on this by signing the bill at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.

The Act continued the prohibition on the entry into the country of "sexual deviants", and this was defined to include homosexuals. It allowed the INS to reject entry by prospective GBLT immigrants on the grounds that they were considered to be "mentally defective". (The Immigration Act of 1990 rescinded the provision discriminating against gay people.)

One of the main components of the 1965 law was the elimination of national origin, race, and ancestry as basis for immigration.
It created a seven-category preference system, which gave priority to relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents and to professionals and other individuals with specialized skills. Immediate relatives and "special immigrants" were not subject to quota restrictions. It also contained a provision which required the Secretary of Labor to certify labor shortages in fields that were given preferences. Refugees were given the seventh and last category preference, but refugees could enter the United States through other means as well like those seeking temporary asylum.

The Hart–Celler Act had broad support in Congress. Senator Philip A. Hart introduced the immigration bill which was backed by the Johnson administration. Representative Emanuel Celler introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, which voted 320 to 70 in favor of the act, while the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 76 to 18. In the Senate, 52 Democrats voted yes, 14 no, and 1 abstained. Among Senate Republicans, 24 voted yes, 3 voted no, and 1 abstained. In the House, 202 Democrats voted yes, 60 voted no and 12 abstained, 118 Republicans voted yes, 10 voted no and 11 abstained. Most of the no votes were from legislators from southern states.

On October 3, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation into law. He told his audience that the previous system "violates the basic principle of American democracy, the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man. It has been un-American in the highest sense, because it has been untrue to the faith that brought thousands to these shores even before we were a country". Johnson called the bill "not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions."

Secretary of State Dean Rusk predicted that the bill would not affect US demographic mix. This later proved to be incorrect, as the ethnic composition of immigrants changed following the passage of the law. Specifically, the nation saw increased numbers of people to migrate to the United States from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern and Eastern Europe. Prior to 1965, 68 percent of legal immigrants came from Europe and Canada. However, in the years 1971–1991, immigrants from Hispanic and Latin American countries made up 47.9 percent of immigrants (with Mexico accounting for 23.7 percent) and immigrants from Asia 35.2 percent. Immigrants constituted 11 percent of the total U.S. population growth between 1960 and 1970, growing to 33 percent from 1970–80, and to 39 percent from 1980–90. The Latin American population dramatically increased since 1965. It is estimated that by the year 2042, minority groups, led by Hispanic Americans (mainly Mexican Americans), Black Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans would together outnumber non-Hispanic White Americans. The resulting diversity has been embraced and welcomed by some groups, and criticized by others.

Remembering John Quincy Adams

On February 23, 1848 (169 years ago today) John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States, died in the Speaker's Room in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. He was 78 years of age.

John Quincy Adams isn't remembered as one of the greatest Presidents, and he really made his reputation after his Presidency, as a very fierce anti-slavery advocate and an abolitionist. He was also one of the nation's most able diplomats, a craft he learned at a very young age from his father, the second President of the United States, John Adams. John Quincy served as a diplomat, a United States Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later the Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating many international treaties, including the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. As Secretary of State in the administration of James Monroe, he negotiated with Great Britain over the United States' northern border with Canada, he negotiated with Spain for the annexation of Florida, and he wrote the Monroe Doctrine, which set out the nation's policy on interference by European nations in geopolitics in the Western hemisphere. Many historians view him as one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history.

He was elected president in 1824 in one of the most controversial elections in the nation's history. He finished second in popular and electoral vote to Andrew Jackson, but since no candidate had a majority of electoral votes, the election was decided by the House of Representatives and John Quincy Adams was selected president over Jackson. Thereafter, Jackson accused John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay of forging a "corrupt bargain" which resulted in Adams becoming President and Clay becoming Secretary of State, which at the time, was seen as a springboard to the presidency.

As President, John Quincy Adams sought to modernize the American economy and he promoted education. On his watch much of the national debt was paid off. But he was stymied by a Congress controlled by his enemies, and his lack of patronage networks hurt his chances for re-election. He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson. In doing so, he became the first president since his father to serve a single term.

Adams was elected as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts after leaving office, serving for the last 17 years of his life with far greater distinction than he had achieved as president. He is, so far, the only president later elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was a very aggressive opponent of slavery and of what he called the Slave Power. His protests in the House against slavery were met with "gag orders" and he successfully argued the famous case of the Amistad before the US Supreme Court. He predicted that if a civil war were to break out, the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers. Adams also predicted the Union's dissolution over the slavery issue, but said that if the South became independent there would be a series of bloody slave revolts.

In 1846, the 78-year old former president suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. After a few months of rest, he made a full recovery and resumed his duties in Congress. When he entered the House chamber, his fellow congressmen "stood up and applauded." On February 21, 1848, the House of Representatives was discussing the matter of honoring U.S. Army officers who served in the Mexican–American War. Adams had been a vehement critic of the war because he believed that its purpose was to expand the institution of slavery. As Congressmen rose up to say "Aye" in favor of the measure, Adams yelled "No!" He rose to answer a question put forth by the Speaker of the House, but he then collapsed, having suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was taken to a bed in the Speaker's Room of the Capitol. Two days later, on February 23, he died there with his wife and son at his side. His last words were "This is the last of earth. I am content." He died at 7:20 p.m.

I haven't read of any reports of John Quincy Adams' ghost haunting the halls of the Capitol. The presence of his moral conscience would be beneficial in any age.

Happy Birthday George Washington

In the first half of the 18th century, Americans operated under the old style Julian calendar (named for Julius Caesar). According to that calendar, George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born on February 11, 1731. But when the colony of Virginia changed to the Gregorian calendar (the calendar named for Pope Gregory XIII) implemented in the British Empire in 1752, according to the provisions of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, the date became February 22, 1732 (285 years ago today). So that makes today George Washington's 285th birthday.

The story about George chopping down a cherry tree (and fessing up when busted for it) is now acknowledged to be a myth, and is called "Parson Weems' Fable" (after the "historian" who first told the story). But, notwithstanding this, there is much to be impressed about the first child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. George Washington was born on his father's Pope's Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington's ancestors were from Sulgrave, England; his great-grandfather, John Washington, had immigrated to Virginia in 1657. George's father Augustine was a slave-owning tobacco planter who later tried his hand in iron-mining. The Washingtons were relatively prosperous members of the Virginia gentry.

George's father died when George was 11 years old, after which George's half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model. William Fairfax, Lawrence's father-in-law and cousin of Virginia's largest landowner, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, was also a mentor and a strong influence on young George. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the Potomac River which he later named Mount Vernon. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father's death, and eventually acquired Mount Vernon after Lawrence's death.

The death of his father prevented Washington from crossing the Atlantic to receive the rest of his education at England's Appleby School, as his older brothers had done. He was educated by a variety of tutors, and also a school run by an Anglican clergyman in or near Fredericksburg. His mother nixed young George's plans of securing an appointment in the Royal Navy when he was 15. Thanks to Lawrence's connection to the powerful Fairfax family, at age 17 in 1749, Washington was appointed official surveyor for Culpepper County, a well-paid position which enabled him to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley, the first of his many land acquisitions in western Virginia.

Washington was six feet tall, which was NBA tall for the times. He is said to have towered over most of his contemporaries. In 1751, Washington traveled to Barbados with Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis, in the hope that the climate would be beneficial to Lawrence's health. Washington contracted smallpox during the trip, which left his face slightly scarred, but immunized him against future exposures to the dreaded disease. Lawrence's health did not improve; he returned to Mount Vernon, where he died in 1752. Washington was appointed by Governor Dinwiddie to the rank of major in the Virginia militia in 1753. He also joined the Freemasons in Fredericksburg at this time.

Washington quickly became a senior officer in the colonial forces during the first stages of the French and Indian War. Chosen by the Continental Congress in 1775 to be commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, Washington managed to force the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and almost captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the dead of winter, he defeated the British in two battles, retook New Jersey and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. Revolutionary forces ultimately captured two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. It wasn't easy for Washington, as he had to hold together the army, amid poor morale, a lack of support from colonial governments, a meddling congress and egotistical generals. In battle Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies. His accomplishments are quite amazing, given all of the obstacles and the enemy that he faced.

After victory had been finalized in 1783, Washington resigned rather than seize power, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to American republicanism. Dissatisfied with the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation, in 1787 Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution. He was selected as the first President in 1789 and remained in office for two precedent setting terms. He managed to keep the nation together amid the factions that competed for power: the Federalists led by Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton and the Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson. Despite this divergence, it was amazing how both sides showed great deference to their former General. He supported Alexander Hamilton's programs to pay off all state and national debt, to implement an effective tax system and to create a national bank (despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson). Washington proclaimed the U.S. neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Great Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians.


Washington retired from the presidency in 1797 and returned to his home, Mount Vernon, and his domestic life where he managed a variety of enterprises. He freed all his slaves by his final 1799 will. Washington's "Farewell Address" was an influential primer on republican virtue and a warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

On his death, Washington was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". As the leader of the first successful revolution against a colonial empire in world history, Washington became an international symbol of liberation. He is consistently ranked among the top three presidents of the United States, according to polls of both scholars and the general public.
In his brilliant recent book 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History, (reviewed here) author Jay Winick is critical of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his failure to do more to prevent the slaughter of Jews during the second world war. Harry Truman was more sympathetic to the plight of European Jews who had suffered under Hitler. As President he faced political opposition and lacked the support in Congress to increase immigration quotas for Jews as refugees. As early as 1943, he had called for the creation of a new homeland for them. When Truman became President in April of 1945, the opportunity arose for him to do more than just give lip service to the concept of a Jewish homeland.


Truman had taken an interest in the history of the Middle East for a long time, and as a senator he had public announced his support for Zionism. The notion of a homeland in Palestine for Jews who were refugees from the Nazis was opposed by many in Roosevelt's State Department, including Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long. According to Jay Winik, these men willfully obstructed the provision of aid and rescue to European Jews who were bound for Hitler's Death Camps. They not only sought to prevent the release of news about the atrocities being committed, but also threatened those who tried to bring these atrocities to the world's attention. They prevented the immigration of Jews fleeing the death camps from coming to the United States and other safe havens, prevented military aid that could have been accomplished with little effort, and ran bureaucratic interference on those seeking to provide rescue and humanitarian aid to the persecuted. As Winik points out, it was a national disgrace.

When Truman became President, many of these same State Department officials were reluctant to offend the Arab nations, who were opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state in the large region long populated and dominated culturally by Arabs. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal warned Truman of the importance of Saudi Arabian oil, something that the United States would sorely need in the event of another war. To his credit, Truman decided his position on the issue on moral grounds rather than economic or military ones. He was also met with resistance from American diplomats with experience in the region, but Truman held to his principles on the issue.

Truman's motives were not entirely altruistic. Palestine was necessary to the goal of protecting the region comprised of Greece, Turkey, and Iran from Communism, as promised in his famous Truman Doctrine. Truman was frustrated by both the competing politics of the Middle East and pressures by Jewish leaders, and for a time he was undecided on his policy. When he decided to support the creation of Israel, he later credited as a factor in his recognition of the Jewish state the advice of his former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, a non-religious Jew whom Truman absolutely trusted.

Truman decided to recognize Israel above the objections of Secretary of State George Marshall, who was worried that doing so would hurt relations with the populous Arab states. Marshall believed the paramount threat to the U.S. was the Soviet Union and he was concerned that Arab oil would be lost to the United States in the event that the United States went to war with the Soviets. He warned Truman that the U.S. was "playing with fire with nothing to put it out".

Despite a glut of advice to the contrary, Truman recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after Israel declared itself a nation. In his memoirs, Truman wrote:

"Hitler had been murdering Jews right and left. I saw it, and I dream about it even to this day. The Jews needed some place where they could go. It is my attitude that the American government couldn't stand idly by while the victims of Hitler's madness are not allowed to build new lives."

The photograph above shows Truman in the Oval Office, receiving a Hanukkah Menorah from the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion (center). To the right is Abba Eban, Ambassador of Israel to the U.S.

Happy Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day to all members of this community. Although this holiday isn't universally observed, wherever you are, I hope it means a day off for you.


There were once separate holidays for Lincoln's Birthday (February 12th) and Washington's Birthday (February 22nd under the current calendar. Washington's Birthday was a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. An Act of Congress passed in 1880 made it a holiday for government offices in the District of Columbia and in 1885 it was expanded to include all federal offices. Washington's birthday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, placing it between February 15 and 21. (Ironically, since the change it can never land on Washington's actual birthday of February 22nd).

The first attempt to create a Presidents Day occurred in 1951 when the "President's Day National Committee" was formed. The purpose was not to honor any particular President, but to honor the office of the Presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day. However the Senate Judiciary Committee felt that, because of its proximity to Lincoln's and Washington Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be too much. The name of the holiday was kept as Washington's Birthday, but by the mid-1980s, thanks to advertisers, the term "Presidents' Day" began to be commonly used and about a dozen state governments officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents' Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations.

Today, this holiday has become well-known for being a day in which many merchants, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day. Some schools, which used to close for a single day for both Lincoln's and Washington's birthday, now often close for the entire week (beginning with the Monday holiday) as a "mid-winter recess".

Many cities offer their own unique way of marking the holiday. For example, Alexandria, Virginia, hosts a month-long tribute, including the longest running George Washington Birthday parade, while the community of Eustis, Florida, continues its annual "George Fest" celebration begun in 1902. In Denver, Colorado there is a society dedicated to observing the day. At the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia, visitors are treated to birthday celebrations throughout the federal holiday weekend and through February 22. In Alabama the third Monday in February commemorates the birthdays of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who was born in April). In Arkansas the third Monday in February is "George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day," an official state holiday. In New Mexico Presidents Day, at least as a state government paid holiday, is observed on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

Since 1862 there has been a tradition in the United States Senate that George Washington's Farewell Address be read on his birthday. The annual tradition continues with the reading of the address on or near Washington's Birthday.

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Here's something from the Punctuation Police: Apparently the holiday is the subject of a spelling controversy. Both Presidents Day and Presidents' Day are are considered correct by dictionaries and usage manuals. Presidents' Day was once the predominant style, and it is still favored by the majority of significant authorities—notably, The Chicago Manual of Style (followed by most book publishers and some magazines), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Webster's Third International Dictionary, and Garner's Modern American Usage. In recent years, the popularity of Presidents Day has increased. This style is favored by the Associated Press Stylebook (followed by most newspapers and some magazines) and the Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference. President's Day is a misspelling when used with the intention of celebrating more than one individual. Though President's Day is sometimes seen in print — even sometimes on government Web sites, this style is not endorsed by any major dictionary or usage authority.

No matter how you spell it, I hope you have a happy Presidents Day (or Presidents' Day). And now, in keeping with a tradition of this community, I give you the 2017 potus_geeks Annual Presidents Day Quiz (found behind the cut!) I'll post the answers in the first comment, but don't look until you've tried the quiz yourself first.

The 2017 Annual Potus Geeks Presidents Day QuizCollapse )

Happy Presidents Day 2017 everyone!
On November 4, 1979 a group of Iranian students, belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The group was made up of supporters of the Iranian Revolution. In taking control of the embassy, the group held Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage for the next 444 days. This group remained in captivity until January 20, 1981.

The plight of the hostages was first and foremost in the mind of President Jimmy Carter. He himself remained in isolation in the White House for more than 100 days, before leaving to participate in the lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse. On April 24, 1980, Carter ordered Operation Eagle Claw to try free the hostages. The mission failed. One of the helicopters intended for the mission encountered hydraulic problems, another got caught in a cloud of very fine sand, and another one showed signs of a cracked rotor blade. As the U.S. force prepared to leave, one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft which contained both servicemen and jet fuel. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight servicemen.

Earlier that month, on April 7, 1980, Carter announced sanctions against Iran, which included a ban on immigration from that country. The militants controlling the Embassy had expressed a willingness to to turn the hostages over to the Government of Iran, but the Iranian Government has refused to take custody of the hostages. Carter considered this to place "full responsibility of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Revolutionary Council for the continued illegal and outrageous holding of the innocent hostages." He said that "the Iranian Government can no longer escape full responsibility by hiding behind the militants at the Embassy."

As a consequence of this, Carter, by executive order, took four measures in response. First, the United States broke diplomatic relations with the Government of Iran. Iran's Embassy and consulates in the United States were closed and all Iranian diplomatic and consular officials were declared "persona non grata". Carter ordered that they "must leave this country by midnight tomorrow." His second measure was to order his Secretary of the Treasury to put into effect official sanctions prohibiting exports from the United States to Iran. In doing so, he relied on a sanctions resolution approved by 10 members of the United Nations Security Council on January 13, 1980. That resolution had been vetoed by the Soviet Union. Carter's ban included shipment of food and medicine, items which were not included in the U.N. Security Council motion. .

His third measure was to order the Secretary of Treasury to freeze all of the assets of the Iranian Government. These had already been frozen by a previous executive order. Carter directed that these assets were to be used to satisfy claims against the Iranian government by the hostages and their families and pledged to introduce legislation to "facilitate processing and paying of these claims."

It was his last move that directly effected immigration and visits to the United States by Carter. He ordered the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective as of the day of the statement (April 7th). Carter said "We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly."

Carter said that his government had "acted at all times with exceptional patience and restraint in this crisis". He pledged continuing support for UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and promised to "continue to consult with our allies and other friendly governments on the steps we are now taking and on additional measures which may be required."

The hostages were released on January 20, 1981, at the moment President Reagan completed his 20‑minute inaugural address after being sworn in. They were flown from Iran to Algeria, then to Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany and on to an Air Force hospital in Wiesbaden, where former President Carter received them. After medical check-ups and debriefings, the hostages took a second flight to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, with a refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, where they were greeted by a large crowd. From Newburgh, they traveled by bus to the United States Military Academy at West Point and stayed at the Thayer Hotel for three days, receiving a heroes’ welcome all along the route. Ten days after their release, they were given a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes in New York City.


The dramatic change in American–Iranian relations, from allies to enemies, helped embolden the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. The United States supplied Iraq with helicopters and satellite intelligence that was used in selecting bombing targets during the subsequent Iraq-Iran War.
Islam is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism. In 2010, it was estimated that 0.9% of the population were followers of Islam, compared to 70.6% who follow Christianity, 22.8% unaffiliated, 1.9% Judaism, 0.7% Buddhism, and 0.7% Hinduism. A more recent estimate from last year, places the number of Muslims living in the United States at 3.3 million, about 1% of the total U.S. population.

Records from the American Revolutionary War indicate that a small number of Muslims fought on the American side. The first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was the Sultanate of Morocco in 1777. Its ruler, Mohammed ben Abdallah, maintained a correspondences with President George Washington. On December 9, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson hosted an Iftar dinner at the White House for his guest Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from Tunis.

Immigration to the U.S. by Muslims began in small numbers in 1840, with the arrival of Yemenis and Turks. It continued through to World War I, with most of these immigrants coming from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire. These immigrants settled primarily in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. Ross is the site of the first documented mosque and Muslim Cemetery.

In 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first sitting president to speak at an American mosque at the inauguration ceremony of the same Islamic center that would later be visited by President George W. Bush in 2001. In speaking to those assembled, President Eisenhower gave his assurance to his audience that the United States “would fight with her whole strength” for Muslims’ right to worship according to their conscience.

In 1974, Gerald R. Ford became the first president to send an official message to Muslim-Americans for Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Ford said in his message that America’s diversity had been “greatly enhanced” by the “religious heritage” of Muslim-Americans. In 1981, Ronald Reagan nominated America’s first Muslim ambassador, Robert Dickson Crane, an American who had converted to Islam.

In 2002, President Bush became the first president to visit an American mosque on the Eid festival. Bush had previously made statements in which he made it clear that the September 11th attacks were perpetrated by terrorists and that Islam was not the enemy. Speaking just days after the September 11th attacks, Bush said:

"Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday's attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens. These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

"The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: 'In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.' The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.

"When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race. America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect."

On a number of occasions, Bush took the position that demonizing Muslims and depicting Islam as the enemy only served to fuel Al Qaeda’s narrative. Even before his presidency, he adopted an inclusive view of Muslim-Americans, prompting journalist Suhail Khan to write, "If Clinton was, as the author Toni Morrison once quipped, America’s first black president, Bush was, at least momentarily, the country’s first Muslim president." For example in 1999, candidate Bush hosted a series of meetings between Muslim and Republican leaders, and visited an Islamic center in Michigan, making him the first major presidential candidate to do so. The 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia was the first in either national party’s history to include a Muslim prayer. On the campaign trail, Bush regularly spoke about the faith of Americans who regularly attended a “church, synagogue, or mosque.” After Muslim community leaders brought to him their civil liberties concerns over a piece of 1996 immigration enforcement legislation signed into law by Bill Clinton, Bush criticized that law in one of his presidential debates against Vice President Al Gore.

In the same speech made in the week after the September 11th attacks, Bush spoke out against acts of violence perpetrated against Muslims in supposed relaliation for the attacks. He said:

"I've been told that some fear to leave; some don't want to go shopping for their families; some don't want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraid they'll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America. Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior. This is a great country. It's a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They're outraged, they're sad. They love America just as much as I do."


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