This Saturday, April 14, 2018 the Secaucus High School JSA chapter, in conjunction with the Rutherford JSA Chapter, hosted the JSA chapters of Rutherford High School, Princeton High School, High Tech High School, Scotch Plains Fanwood High School, South Jersey High School, Bergen Country Academy, Villa Victoria Academy, Marlboro High School, South Brunswick High School, Old Bridge High School, Middlesex County Academy, Biotech High School, Colts Neck High School, and Dwight Morrow Academy Englewood for the 2018 Mini-Conference. This year’s topic was political scandals. The students of the aforementioned schools came together in order to debate the following topics:
- Resolved, President Trump’s alleged relations with Stormy Daniels do not make him unfit for leadership.
Stephanie Gregory Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, is an American pornographic actress, stripper, screenwriter, and director. Stormy Daniels was introduced to Mr. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in July of 2006 in Lake Tahoe. She claims that Mr. Trump invited her to dinner and to meet him in his hotel suite. Roughly a week and a half before the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Stormy Daniels to remain discreet about her alleged relationship with the then-Republican candidate for president. Mr. Trump, through a spokesman, has denied sexual relations with Stormy Daniels and his lawyers have financially threatened her. She will have to pay $1 million dollars each time she violates the terms of her agreement to stay silent. Do you think that the alleged relationship between President Trump and Stormy Daniels make Trump unfit to fulfill the role of President of the United States?
- Resolved: Putin is a dictator.
Senior Russian officials have said that Vladimir Putin’s decisive win in the presidential elections reflects popular support for his muscular foreign policy and would bolster his role as a counterweight to the west. Putin pursues an independent foreign policy and stands up for the national interests that the citizens of our country share. This win strengthens his capabilities, this strengthens his weight, and this strengthens his authority in the world. Putin’s victory, with a 76.7% share of the vote, comes amid high tensions between London and Moscow over the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in the UK on Monday to begin testing samples from the 4 March attack, which Putin has denied was Moscow’s doing. Do you think that Putin has the right to stay in office, or do you believe that his reign is ultimately hurting Russia?
- Resolved, that the U.S. was not justified in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.
On March 20, 2003, the United States along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, invaded Iraq. Bush’s administration justified its actions by citing Article II of the U.S. Constitution which outlines the powers of the President as Commander in Chief as well as legal authorizations passed by Congress. People of the United States were inclined to trust him as his leadership was a huge presence in our nation at the time. However, this invasion put thousands of soldiers to begin their duty that would have appalling costs in lives, and resources. Was the U.S. justified in its 2003 invasion of Iraq?
- Resolved, that the acceptance of lobby money by Congressmen in return for favors violates the democratic process.
While lobbying money has its perks, it has also been proven to have its cons as many people sometimes see it as bribery in a suit. Lobbying money is primarily used by groups of either side to further a political agenda. For example, an officer of Duke writes to a Member of Congress urging him or her to vote against an amendment that will be offered during the debate on a bill. This constitutes as lobbying because it states a view about a specific legislation. Another example would be cigar lobbyists saying that cigars should not be grouped with cigarettes. They can lobby to avoid government scrutiny and at the same time, propagate an image that cigars are not harmful, when in fact cigars are just as harmful as cigarettes. In recent news, Congressmen have been accepting lobby money which is often used to entice Congressmen and legislation. So, does the acceptance of lobby money by Congressmen in return for favors violate the democratic process?
- Resolved, Putin has an unfair advantage over other presidential candidates in Russia’s elections.
Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia in 2000 and 2012 and his recent decisions have been leaving people questioning whether he is actually using his power wisely. As of late, Putin has recently been re-elected as President of Russia for his fourth term. As President, Putin has made some major decisions like occupying the surrounding territory of Georgia, Ukraine, and Crimea. He has also signed the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions with US President George Bush, which requires each country to reduce its stockpiles of strategic nuclear warheads over the course of ten years. Do you believe his position of President has been overpowering his other presidential candidates during Russia's elections?
- Resolved, President Bush’s actions following 9/11 hurt the Middle East.
The day of September 11, 2001 will forever be known as the worst terrorist attacks on United States soil. Exactly 19 militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda hijacked four planes obliterating targets in the United States in places like the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside of Washington D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania. The Bush administration’s response following this day affirmed the expansion of presidential power in the matters of national security. Actions like air strikes against Taliban military installations and Al- Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, liberation of multiple cities in Afghanistan, and the invasion and start of the war in Iraq, further secured our nation’s security, and liberated many in both Afghanistan, and Iraq. Still however, major devastation was brought upon an economically important area. So in the end, did President Bush’s actions following 9/11 hurt or help the Middle East?
- Resolved, Trump’s involvement in Mueller's Russia Probe investigation warrant allegations of Obstruction of Justice.
As rumors and accusations flew throughout Washington and the rest of the country, Robert Mueller was named special counselor to head the investigation of whether or not President Trump participated in the illegal activity of rigging the 2016 election. Robert Mueller was the sixth Federal Bureau of Investigation Director and held that title from 2001 to 2013. Ever since Mueller has filled his position and began the process of an investigation, President Donald Trump has seemingly questioned him at every stop. Some question whether Trump associates should be involved in an investigation about their boss. There has also been allegations that President Trump asked one of his secretaries to “get rid of” Counselor Mueller. When asked to address these rumors President Trump has denied all, but also talked to two of his former associates which were interviewed by Counselor Mueller. Do you believe that this activity done by the President is obstruction of Justice?
- Resolved: that the Watergate Scandal positively changed the way American leaders and politics were viewed.
The Watergate scandal began when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery. The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime afterwards, and in August 1974, after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, Nixon resigned. The Watergate scandal changed American politics forever, leading many Americans to question their leaders and think more critically about the presidency. Do you believe this scandal was more telling of past, present, and future president's actions that allowed our government to be more secure?
- Resolved: President Trump is justified in attempting to hide and silence his affair with Stormy Daniels.
The Wall Street Journal broke another Donald Trump scandal. As the Journal’s Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo reported, the president had paid porn performer/director Stormy Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 as part of a nondisclosure agreement due to the fact that Daniels and Trump had a sexual encounter in July 2006. Normally, a president’s past affair with an adult film star would dominate news coverage. It would’ve been completely normal if the story, “Donald Trump commits adultery” faded away. Yet this didn’t happen. The Stormy Daniels affair has had remarkable staying power, both because, after weeks of staying quiet, Daniels herself has decided she wants to tell her story, and because Trump and his legal team are going to extraordinary lengths to silence her, including demanding $20 million for violations of the nondisclosure agreement she and her legal team have allegedly already committed. Do you believe our president has the right to take part in such affairs, and then bribe those in the party, as it affects his image and America’s reputation?
- Resolved: Russia rigged the 2016 U.S Election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the U.S. election to bolster his standing at home and increase his relevance overseas. Whether through a well-timed public comment, a military deployment that exposed weaknesses in America's own war plans, or reportedly actual meddling in the U.S. electoral process, Putin has ensured that he got what he wanted out of this year's presidential race. In Donald Trump's victory, Putin had an American counterpart who was publicly stated he would adopt a more amenable policy toward Russia, getting out of its way in Syria and perhaps even overseeing lifting international sanctions. Very likely, the winner of the election was comparatively of little consequence to Putin. More importantly, the Russian leader saw an opportunity to exploit what he sees as hypocrisy and unfairness in the American electoral process to counter Western criticism that he has manipulated votes in Russia to maintain his hold on power. Do you think Russia has faced proper repercussions for their actions?
- Resolved, the actions committed by Richard Nixon’s campaign during the Watergate Scandal were an attack on the American democratic process.
On June 17th, 1972, 5 men were caught stealing documents and bugging offices in the DNC offices in the Watergate Hotel. It was later revealed that this was not the first time that men had attempted to bug offices and steal classified documents. The White House tried to cover for President Nixon, who was affiliated with the men; however their attempts failed, leading to the beginning of impeachment processes. In a press conference, Nixon assured the American people that he and the White House were not affiliated with these men. When the men were put on trial, and the story changed as the truth was revealed, the men were a part of Nixon’s re-election campaign team. The Watergate Scandal also consisted of illegal activities throughout the Nixon Administration, which were revealed during the investigation. Before he could be impeached, President Nixon resigned on August 8th, 1974. Do you think Nixon and his administration handled the Watergate Scandal in a democratic way?
- Resolved, that the U.S. government was justified in hiring ex-Nazis after the Nuremberg Trials.
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of 13 trials held in Nuremberg, Germany following World War II. The intent of holding these trials was for the Allied Powers to bring justice to Nazi leaders who were involved in World War II. Despite the trials, the United States and their allies would secretly hire the ex-Nazis through the International Military Tribunal. A year before the war ended, Allied scientists and leaders sought after qualified German and Austrian scientists; however, most of them identified with the Nazi Party. In order to sell the employment of German and Austrian scientists in Project Paperclip, a project to help advance US nuclear technology during the beginning of the Cold War, the White House lied to Americans. After many lies, the truth was exposed. Was the US justified in hiring qualified people, despite their affiliation with the Nazi Party?