Bill of rights, observation in the news about the American Government, famous government speech, debate

Discussion 1

1. What is the historical reason we have a Bill of Rights? How did we get our Bill of Rights? What was going on in the country at the time?

2. Post an example of a current issue involving one of the Bill of Rights: tell us the who, what, when, where and how of the issue and tell us which of the Bill of Rights is involved in your example and why you picked this particular Bill of Rights.

3. Rewrite the Bill of Rights in your own words.

***Your replies should carry the discussion forward with specific examples, facts, and reasons.***

Discussion 2

Post an example of your observation in the news as to the use or lack thereof of critical thinking and apply your own critical thinking analysis.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Critical thinking and analysis is not "criticize". It is not opinion. Watch the enclosed short youtube regarding critical thinking. Be sure and proofread your posts before submitting them to correct for any opinion and criticism.

The news item must involve the American Government in some way. You must be very specific and list all the steps of your critical analysis thinking. Be sure and tell us about the topic and identify your source. For example, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2020 article about American involvement with Syria, by Author X. Provide a link to the article. Then, apply your critical analysis.


Discussion 3

Post a speech given by a famous American who is connected with our government from sometime in U.S. History, that speaks to you. Tell us the who, why, where and when and give us the context of the speech-for example, what was going on at that time? Also provide a brief synopsis and a link to the speech.

Explain to us why you picked this speech and why it "speaks" to you

DEBATE;

Consider the statement of 19th century British peer and historian, Lord Acton, that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Likewise, consider the similar view of the 18th century French philosopher, Montesquieu, who wrote that "Every man who has power is compelled to abuse it."

Resolved: That the American Democratic political system is in practice an effective safeguard against the abuses of power that Acton and Montesquieu feared.

THE DEBATE IS:

WHETHER OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM IN PRACTICE IS, OR IS NOT, AN EFFECTIVE SAFEGUARD AGAINST THESE ABUSES OF POWER

RESPOND TO THE TWO EXAMPLES BELOW AND GIVE DETAILS AND FACTS ABOUT WHY IT IS AN EFFECTIVE SAFEGUARD

1. The abuse of power can be a contagious and often times one can think they have to bend the rules a little to do what they feel is right. However, the government can’t be an effective safeguard when as a whole the government is abusing the power they have and invading our constitutional rights.

After 9/11 President Bush enacted a program that allowed the NSA to monitor text messages, emails, and phone calls of American citizens without a warrant or probable cause. This has been a debatable topic for many years. In 2006 “Judge Taylor found that the program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”(ACLU, 2006)

The Mccarthy hearings were another grave abuse of power by U.S. Senator. Where he went unchecked during his fight against communism in the 1950’s. Holding hearings and essentially interrogations of anyone he thought had the smallest tie to communism. Harvard law dean Ervin Griswold described McCarthy's role as "judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one." (2003) Until he finally picked a fight with the U.S. Army and was disgraced during a hearing in front of congress.

Though the system would appear to stifle the abuse of power, yet throughout history there are many instances where the power is being abused in the name of national security and it goes unchecked.


2. 1. Perhaps the biggest abuse of presidential power in U.S. history was the Watergate Scandal. The scandal stemmed from Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempts to cover up its involvement in the failed break in of the Democratic National Committee. The perpetrators of the break in were found to have been paid by Nixon’s re-election campaign. Many other abuses of power came out of this scandal including Nixon using the CIA to stall the FBI’s investigation of the matters. This ultimately led to Nixons resignation from office.

2. Abuses of power don’t always have to be found within the federal government. The mayor of Detroit in 2002, Kwame Kilpatrick, was convicted of several crimes that involved the abuse of power. He was convicted of extortion, bribery and fraud. He used funds from non-profit organizations to give gifts to his friends and buy expensive cars and vacations for himself. Not only was Kilpatrick abusing his power, but 28 other people were involved in his schemes. This example shows that if you have power and can get others to cooperate with you, the abuse of power is very possible regardless of the democratic system we have in place.
3. Back in the mid 1800s, William Tweed committed a plethora of crimes when he was the head of Tammany Hall Political Machine. He owned much of the land in New York and therefore, had a lot of influence over the members of the New York government. By having all of this power, he was able to appoint several of his friends into the Hall. They were convicted of fraud and over $200 million in embezzlement.

All of these examples show that corruption and abuse of power is possible and does happen in the American Democracy.


Answers

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