The 1st Amendment vs Donnie Trump

Imagine, if you will, President Barack Obama, ready to give a press conference, telling his aides that only people who agree with him completely are to be allowed in.  Or, better yet … imagine George W. Bush giving a televised address to the nation after 9/11, but insisting that media companies black out his address to all democratic households.  Fantasy, right?  Silly at best.  And yet, that is exactly what Trump has tried to do.  His preferred venue for communicating his … er, um … thoughts … is Twitter.  I honestly think he must spend 4-5 hours per day tweeting from his throne (bet there’s no shortage of toilet paper there!) 

In 2017, within months of taking the Oath of Office (remember that oath, Donnie?) Trump began blocking Twitter users who dared to disagree with him.  Seven of those users felt that if that is the only means by which he is going to communicate, then We the People must be able to question and yes, even disagree with or criticize him.  And so, those seven convinced the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University to file a lawsuit on their behalf.  Well, the wheels of justice turn pretty darn slowly sometimes, and the case was first heard by Judge Naomi Buchwald in May 2018.  Her 75-page ruling, in a nutshell, said that,  “No government official — including the President — is above the law.”  Hmmmm … perhaps Attorney General William Barr could learn something from her.

Well, Trump and his cadre of lawyers, naturally, appealed the case and in July 2019, a New York-based appeals court upheld Judge Buchwald’s ruling, saying that public officials who take to social media for official government business are prohibited from excluding people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit …

“In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

Justice Department lawyers defending Trump said in court that @realDonaldTrump is a personal account on a privately owned digital platform and that Trump may block followers he “does not wish to hear.”  Sounds rather like censorship to me.

And … sigh … of course the lawyers picked up their briefcases and headed back to court to file yet another appeal.  Yesterday, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit denied the Trump administration’s request to revisit the July 2019 ruling.  Of the nine judges who considered the Trump administration’s request, only two said they would have revisited the earlier decision.  The two are both Trump appointees, Judge Michael H. Park and Judge Richard J. Sullivan.  Judge Park wrote in his dissenting opinion …

“The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not include a right to post on other people’s personal social media accounts, even if those other people happen to be public officials.”

Sea ditz.

The last sentence of the article I read … “The Justice Department is reviewing the ruling, a spokeswoman said.”  Translate that as … Trump’s legal eagles will file yet another appeal to a higher court — United States Supreme Court.  Remember something, folks … you and I are paying for all the time these lawyers are wasting, we are paying the judges salary and all their clerks who must review and type their 75-page rulings, we are paying for both legal teams … we are paying through the nose for Trump to have his hand slapped time and time and time again.  And, what happens when the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court?  Well, let’s see … there are the two Justices he leads around using the rings in their noses – that would be Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.  Then there is  Chief Justice John Roberts who, ever since a few private tête-à-têtes in the Oval Office, has been just as much a Trump boot-licker as Kellyanne Conway.  So, I give you three guesses.

Now, Filosofa, though no legal scholar, is going to weigh in on this one just for a minute.  In the first ruling on this case, Judge Buchwald said that no one, not even the president, is above the law.  And yet, Attorney General William Barr has said that as long as Trump’s fat arse is sitting in the Oval Office, he is above the law.  My best guess is that this will be the argument the high-paid DOJ lawyers will use at the Supreme Court level, and because Bill Barr said it’s so, then … gasp … of course it must be so.

But back to the starting point.  Trump’s attorneys argue that @realDonaldTrump is a private account.  However, I would argue that by default it has become a government account, since Trump conducts nearly all communication with his portion of the public, his 62 million Twitter followers, via Twitter using that account.  The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives We the People the absolute right to speak out against our government officials.  If I attend a speech in another venue, I certainly can express my own opinion, so … why not on Twitter.

If the case goes to the Supreme Court and if the Court rules in Trump’s favour, We the People must engage in a very forceful protest.  Coronavirus be damned … this is the future of all Americans that is at stake here, for centuries to come.  We simply cannot let him continue chipping away at our Constitutional rights, my friends … it’s really all that remains between us and a full-blown dictatorship.

Sneaky

This, my friends, is how democracies die …

“The Justice Department has quietly [emphasis added] asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.

[…]

The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.”

You can read the rest of the article here, but let’s talk a bit about what this could mean.

This could mean, if somehow either Congress passed it, or failing that, Trump took his ‘executive power’ to an unprecedented level, that you might be arrested for any or no reason.  Say your state is under a mandated “lock down” (something that is outside of the law to begin with), and you are out for a walk in your neighborhood.  A police car is patrolling the area, sees you, stops and the officer arrests you simply for being outside.  He couldn’t do that under normal circumstances, and if he did, you would be able to appear before a magistrate, explain the situation, and almost certainly be released immediately.  But, if this suspension of constitutional rights were to fly, you could be arrested, tossed in jail, and not go before a judge “until this crisis is over” … possibly months or even as long as a year.

That scenario is frightening enough, but let’s project a bit.  If allowed to suspend constitutional rights, what other areas of our civil liberties might be affected?  The one that worries me the most is the 1st Amendment, our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Already, our right to peaceful protest has been suspended by default with the ruling that no more than ten people are allowed to gather in one place.  What next?  Could it become unlawful to … say, speak against our government, to call Trump out on his lies and ignorance?

I don’t know where this will go, and I hope that the Democratic-majority House of Representatives will put a stop to such nonsense, but I do not have a crumb of trust in our government at this time – not Donald Trump, not William Barr and his Department of ‘Justice’, not the Republican-led Senate under Mitch McConnell.  I don’t trust our law enforcement agencies, nor our Departments of Labour, Education, Health and Human Services … none of them.  They are led by people who do not care about the people of this nation but will do almost anything to enhance their own profits and power.  Just something to think about.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball and hope our free press does the same.


And just one little snippet that I found humorous in a macabre sort of way …

“In Rhode Island, among businesses cited for ignoring social-distance warnings was Wonderland, a strip club, where customers were still receiving lap dances last weekend.”

Gotta get your priorities straight, y’know!

On Common Sense and Humanity

People, People, People … I want you all to take a deep breath and repeat after me:

“This is not the bubonic plague, nor is it World War III.  It is not the end of the world.  I do not need 430 rolls of toilet paper in my garage, nor do I need 1,982 bottles of water stacked in every corner of my house.  I do not need to believe every dire prediction I hear, nor do I need to stock up on booze.  I do need to take sensible precautions like using hand sanitizer, washing my hands when out in public, and wiping household surfaces with disinfecting wipes.  If I do those things, I will likely be fine.  I will control what I can, but understand that some things are outside my control.”

For Pete’s Sake what is wrong with people???

Okay, I’m not surprised that milk, bread and eggs are in tight demand … if the weather forecast even breathes the “S-word” from November through March, it happens that the fools rush to the grocery and nearly mug other shoppers trying to get that last loaf of bread or gallon of milk.  Fortunately, I bake most of my own bread and we drink very little milk.  But people … toilet paper???  Seriously??? What — do you think that wiping your patootie more often will ward off the virus?  (Hint:  it won’t … you’ll just end up with a sore patootie)

tide-podsTide pods … y’know, laundry detergent?  What — are people going to actually try eating them to disinfect their bodies?  Two small packs of Tide pods were left on the shelves of my local Kroger on Friday.  Amazon just sent me an email to inform me that my monthly subscribe & save order for Clorox wipes would be delayed because … because people bought them all up.  Never mind that I have a standing monthly order because I clean 3 bathrooms 3 times a week, plus have 5 kitties to clean up after.

But it gets worse than the run on commodities.  Yesterday morning, my young neighbor sent me a copy of a text he had received …

Tholfaqar

My friend is a 19-year-old refugee from Iraq who was frightened by this obviously spammy text and didn’t know if it was real or not, wanted to know if he was allowed to leave his home.  Now why the HELL would somebody play on people’s fears at this stressful time?  What is to be gained???  Did somebody think this was funny?

And then there were the brothers Matt and Noah Colvin.  They thought they would rake in a nice little profit off of people’s fears, so one brother, Noah,  took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores”.  The other brother, Matt, stayed home and ordered scads of hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and face masks, while preparing pallets for their arrival.  The goal?  To rob people blind.  They purchased, for example, hand sanitizer for just over $1 per bottle, and sold it for as much as $70 per bottle.  Fortunately, both Amazon and Ebay, where the brothers had accounts and were selling their wares, caught on quickly and pulled their accounts, so now the dastardly duo are left with some 17,700 bottles and nowhere to sell them.  Awwww … what a cryin’ shame, eh?  Seems to me the best thing to do would be give them away to people in need, but nooooo …

Think the Colvin brothers are an anomaly?  Think again.  Amazon said it had recently removed hundreds of thousands of listings and suspended thousands of sellers’ accounts for price gouging related to the coronavirus.  One might hope that these A-holes would, being stuck with a bunch of things they cannot sell, donate them to those in need and chalk it all up to a lesson in humanitarianism, but … don’t hold your breath.  These are the people who think they are somehow better, somehow more deserving than the rest of us.

I also heard that liquor stores and cannabis stores are doing a booming business, a 500% – 800% increase in revenues.  Does this tell us something about our society?

toilet-paperThose who would profit at the expense of others from this global pandemic deserve whatever punishment they get.  Who’s to blame?  All of us.  Yes, you.  Yes, me.  We allow panic to take precedence over common sense.  To be sure, we have had help from the federal government, the ‘president’ who we should be able to trust, but cannot, and from the media with their voices of gloom and doom.  But, at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own actions.  We are adults, capable of thinking, reasoning, and capable … when we so choose … of being humans, of thinking of others.  Instead, some 90% of the population, it would seem, are thinking only of themselves, how to keep themselves safe and to hell with the rest of the world, how to have a few laughs at our expense, or how to profit from our misfortune.  It is times like this that I despise the human race.  Times like this that I am more determined than ever that if someday I must return to earth, it will be as something other than a human.

clorox-wipesI am human, and thus yes, I am concerned about the coronavirus.  My daughter is a nurse who works with sick people every day, so naturally I am concerned for her. I am 68 years old and have health issues, so I am in that “highest risk” group.  But you know what?  There’s a difference between being concerned and panicking.  I’m not stockpiling anything, and while I am taking reasonable precautions, such as washing my hands when in public, I am not locking myself in my home.  I will go out to dinner with the girls this evening, and mid-week I will go to the grocery in hopes that there is still a chicken and a bag of rice left.  I will be responsible for my own fate and help others to the extent that I can.  I will be able to live with my own conscience.  We cannot live in a bubble, friends.

November 3rd Election?

When I heard on Thursday that Louisiana had postponed the Democratic primary election that was to have been held on April 4th over coronavirus concerns, the first thought that jumped uninvited to my mind was the November 3rd election.  We all know that Donald Trump would do anything, if he feared losing the election, to postpone or cancel it.  My concerns were such that they cost me most of a night’s sleep.  So, I was greatly relieved, though not completely, when I came across this by New York Times political correspondent Alexander Burns, that puts to rest at least some of my concerns.  Mind you, I still don’t trust Trump, don’t trust our federal government period, given that he has the entire Department of Justice and a majority of the United States Senate in his pocket, and isn’t that a damn shame?  But this provided some clarity and relief.

Could the 2020 Election Be Postponed? Only With Great Difficulty. Here’s Why.

With Louisiana delaying its primary vote, we answer six key questions about holding elections in a crisis. And no, a president cannot cancel an election with executive authority.

Alexander-BurnsBy Alexander Burns

March 14, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET

The coronavirus outbreak is inflicting new disruptions on the 2020 presidential campaign by the day, but few compare to Louisiana’s decision on Friday to reschedule its upcoming primary election.

It was a highly unusual development in an American political campaign, though not an entirely unprecedented one.

So how much disruption can voters expect in the coming months? And how freely can local, state and federal authorities switch up the timing and other details of elections? We took a crack at answering some of the questions that may be on your mind.

Why is Louisiana moving its primary election?

Louisiana’s secretary of state, R. Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, asked Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, to postpone the state’s April 4 primary by about two months because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The two men are permitted to do so by a Louisiana law that allows the governor to reschedule an election because of an emergency, so long as the secretary of state has certified that an emergency exists.

Have other states changed their primaries in response to the coronavirus?

No. Or at least, not yet.

The four states with elections coming up on Tuesday — Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Illinois — have taken other precautions to make voting safer without shifting the date of their primaries. It is possible, however, that some later-voting states could follow Louisiana’s example.

While a last-minute change like Louisiana’s is highly unusual, states have broad autonomy to define the timing and procedures for primary elections. The exact process for setting primary dates varies from state to state. That is why a number of states changed the dates of their primaries and caucuses between 2016 and 2020, and why Republicans in several states were able to cancel their 2020 primary elections to minimize intraparty competition for President Trump.

But the Democratic Party also has its own rules requiring that all primary elections be completed by June 9, and that all delegates to its national convention in Milwaukee be selected by June 20. Any states that defy that timetable — including Louisiana — could be penalized by the national party with a reduction in their delegate count.

Could the general election be postponed or canceled?

Only with enormous difficulty.

The date of the general election is set by federal law and has been fixed since 1845. It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

To call that unlikely would be an understatement.

And even if all of that happened, there would not be much flexibility in choosing an alternate election date: The Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president’s term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed just by the passage of normal legislation.

After Louisiana’s announcement on Friday, Marc Elias, the prominent Democratic election lawyer, knocked down what he described as a wave of queries about whether the November election could be similarly revised.

“I am getting a lot of questions about the November election,” Mr. Elias wrote on Twitter. “While states can set their own primary days, the federal general election is set by federal statute as the the [sic] Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This date cannot be changed by a state nor by the President.”

Can the president cancel or postpone an election with an executive order?

No. The president has a lot of power, but when it comes to elections he is far more constrained than the governor of Louisiana.

What about the procedures for voting in the November election?

While the date of the presidential election is set by federal law, the procedures for voting are generally controlled at the state level.

That’s why we have such a complicated patchwork of voting regulations, with some states allowing early and absentee voting; some permitting voting by mail or same-day voter registration; others requiring certain kinds of identification for voters; and many states doing few or none of those things.

So it is possible that states could revise their voting procedures in response to a public health crisis, perhaps by making it easier to vote by mail or through various absentee procedures that would not require people to cluster together on one particular date.

Washington State, a focal point for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, has conducted elections by mail for years, and its presidential primary on March 10 was able to unfold without disruption.

The federal government could also take steps to mandate or encourage different voting procedures, without changing the timing of the election. Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine, has proposed that Congress require states to offer “no excuse absentee balloting” for the general election, so that anyone can opt to vote by a method besides in-person voting on Election Day.

Have American elections been moved because of emergencies in the past?

Yes, at the state and local level.

Perhaps most notably, the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks came on the morning of a municipal primary election in New York City, and the state Legislature passed emergency legislation postponing the election by two weeks. In 2017, some municipal elections in Florida were briefly delayed because of Hurricane Irma.

It was reported in 2004 that some Bush administration officials had discussed putting in place a method of postponing a federal election in the event of a terrorist attack. But that idea fizzled quickly, and Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, said that the United States had held “elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time.”

Filosofa Rants

Donald Trump and his administration defy description.  I can use every adjective in my vocabulary and still not have defined the abomination that is not-so-affectionately called “the swamp”.

Let us look back to Tuesday, when Donald Trump gave an impromptu presser outside the Capitol.  When asked by one reporter a question regarding the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Trump answered …

“It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away… Be calm. It’s really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen. The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things. The consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now. So a lot of good things are going to happen.”

Huh?  Does he think we are four-year-old children looking to our daddy for affirmation that “everything will be okay”?  And “a lot of good things”???  What good things?  People dying, panic in the markets, a NCAA tournament being played sans spectators?  Nearly two thousand cases in the U.S.?  (Yes, Donnie, you must count the cases that were on the ship Diamond Princess … like it or not, the ship is not a nation, and the people aboard it are U.S. citizens)  And since you opened the bloody door, Donnie … those tax cuts and regulation cuts have hurt … HURT … the consumers, the citizens of this nation.  With your tax cuts, you benefited the wealthy, at the cost of the average worker.  And with your ignominious regulation roll-backs, you are killing us slowly as you allow more and more crap to be put into the atmosphere by your rich bitch friends in the fossil fuel and logging industries.  KILLING US!  Killing future generations.  Killing the ecosystem that supports life on Planet Earth.  And for what, pray tell???

How many more lies will the people of this nation put up with?  How much longer will the republicans who support Trump be willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children & grandchildren, to feed the ego of the megalomaniac who sits on his fat derriere in a chair in the Oval Office that Hillary Clinton earned, not him?

Last June, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had not given a single press briefing for three full months, left her position as White House Press Secretary and was replaced by Melania Trump’s “chief of staff for communications”, though I have not the faintest idea why Melania needs such a person.  Since accepting the position of Press Secretary, Ms. Grisham has not held one single press briefing.  Not one.  The job of White House Press Secretary is to be a liaison between the administration and the public.  WE THE PEOPLE pay this woman $183,000 per year to … what???  Well, let’s see … a few days ago she could be heard screeching at reporters attending a press conference to “Get out .. just GO … GET OUT!” repeatedly.  Very unprofessional.  Oh, and I hear she appears frequently on Fox News shows.

Donald Trump’s “campaign” is suing the three top news outlets in the country:  The Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN.  The lawsuits, according to all legal experts, are frivolous and his campaign stands zero chance of winning any of them.  However, winning them was never the purpose.  The purpose was always to send a warning shot over the bow, so to speak.  To cause media outlets to think twice before printing anything in the least bit critical of Trump.  Now, let’s think about this for a minute …

Since long before he took office, Trump has denigrated the press, has attempted to bully and intimidate them.  The most heinous was the many times he referred to them as “the enemy of the people”, a term for which any other president in our nation’s history would have been censured, but not Trump.  He communicates via Twitter, rather than holding actual press conferences or actually talking to reporters.  He is purging his staff of any who cannot prove they are 100% loyal to him.  The only way the press have often known what was transpiring within the administration has been through leaks by staff … those are likely to dry up in light of his purges.  And now, he is suing any who criticize him.  What do you think all this adds up to?

It adds up to the fact that there is likely to be even less transparency for the next eight months than there has been in the past three years, and that has been little enough.  It means we will have no idea what the truth is, what is being done to within the confines of the government we pay for.  We have been lied to so many times, and now, with an actual crisis facing this nation, the press has been stifled and all he can do is tell us more lies.  No, people, everything is NOT under control, there are NOT good things happening, and Donald Trump is in so far over his head that he is drowning in the muck he has created.

The man who holds the highest office in this nation does not have any leadership skills, lacks intelligence, is more concerned about his image than our lives, and has surrounded himself with buffoons and bozos.  My friends, we are not in a good place.  The things you can do are support the free press, keep calling and writing to your representatives in Congress, send letters to your local newspapers, and most important of all:  Vote this son of a bitch out of office on November 3rd!

The Media Drops The Ball-Again

Our friend Jeff introduces us to Eric Boehlert, a journalist who calls a spade a spade, unlike far too many today! Take a minute to read and ponder, if you will. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

For over three years now, our national media continues to try and normalize this president. Nobody points this out better than media critic Eric Boehlert. You’ve maybe seen Eric on MSNBC, as he’s regularly on AM Joy on most weekends. For years he wrote for Media Matters, a progressive non-profit organization that specializes in monitoring and analyzing conservative media lies and misinformation. In addition, he has a regular segment on progressive talk-show host Stephanie Miller every Monday on SiriusXM Channel 127. Now, he has his new website: Press Run. I hope you enjoy Eric’s take. As usual, he’s spot on. There are links below if you’d like to subscribe to his site. It’s free.

How Ap, NPR, and NYT help whitewash Trump’s virus madness

Normalizing carries a high price

By Eric Boehlert

After three years we start to lose the words and the right language to describe Trump’s often demented…

View original post 868 more words

It Couldn’t Happen Here … Could It?

In Russia, the term for a president is twelve years (compared to four years in the U.S.), with a limit of two terms, or twenty-four years total.  But that may soon be changing … and no, not for the better.  Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is serving his 20th year as president, has announced his support for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek another two terms in the Kremlin.  This would mean that Putin could serve as long as 48 years in total and would be 95 years old when he finally stepped down from the throne.PutinThe proposal began in parliament, where a member of Russia’s ruling party, Valentina Tereshkova, proposed amending the constitution in a way that would reset Putin’s presidential term count back to zero, meaning Putin could run twice more for the presidency.

“I propose that we either lift the restriction on the number of presidential terms or indicate in an article of this bill that the incumbent president, just like any other citizen, has the right to run for president after the updated constitution takes effect.”

Parliament, of course, needed Putin’s approval to move forward with the proposed amendment, and he was more than happy to comply in a 30-minute speech before Parliament.

Now, I hear you saying, “So what?  We’ve got troubles enough here at home, so why should we worry about Russia?”  But now, I ask you to think back … how many times has Trump made statements like …

“He’s [Chinese President Xi Jinping] now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

“The disastrous IG Report on James Comey shows, in the strongest of terms, how unfairly I, and tens of millions of great people who support me, were treated. Our rights and liberties were illegally stripped away by this dishonest fool. We should be given our stolen time back?”

Or this tweet he posted last summer …Trump-foreverSure, we have a Constitution that says he is limited to two terms.  So does Russia.  Sure, we have a Congress that would have to pass such a measure.  So does Russia have a Parliament.  Sure, we have safeguards in our system of checks and balances, separation of powers … or do we?   The system is only as good as those who enforce it … such as the likes of Attorney General William Barr.

As long as there is a democratic majority in at least one chamber of Congress, as there is at the moment, then no, I do not think it could happen here.  But, just ponder for a moment.  What if, as was the case for Trump’s first two years in office, there was a republican majority in both the House and the Senate?  And what if that majority was large enough to garner a super majority (67%) in both chambers?  Then are we so certain it couldn’t happen?  I’m not.

Our system works only so long as everyone agrees to abide by the law.  As we have seen over the past three years, Trump not only refuses to abide by the law, but openly flaunts it on a day-to-day basis.  Not only that, but he has loaded his administration with sycophants who will do his bidding, and is on a mission to purge any who might be given to an attack of conscience.

All of which points up the necessity … nay, the urgency … of the upcoming elections.  Vote to ensure that our laws, our Constitution, will hold, that the foundation will not crumble.  Vote as if your life depends on it … for just maybe it does.

The Bernie & Joe Show

While there remain four candidates in the running for the Democratic nomination, it is obvious that there are really only two viable ones.  Tulsi Gabbard should have dropped out long before, as she never stood a snowball’s chance.  Mike Bloomberg, who won not a single state last night, announced he is dropping out this morning, and will be supporting Joe Biden.  And, much as I hate to see her go, the time has come for Elizabeth Warren to remove her hat and announce her support for either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.  Yep, folks, for the next four months it will be the Bernie & Joe Show.

A few of my own thoughts …

I am sometimes saddened and sometimes angry that the people of this country, even some who are supposedly liberal-minded and forward-thinking, are still too cowardly to actually elect a woman as president.  Why did Hillary Clinton lose?  Sure, Trump with the assistance of Russia, Julian Assange, and FBI Director James Comey sabotaged her campaign.  Sure, she had some baggage and she was lacking the ‘warm, fuzzy’ persona that people expect from a … woman.  Despite the Trump/Russian interference, despite the Bill Clinton debacle, and even despite her faux pas when she referred to republicans as ‘deplorables’, Hillary Clinton won the election by nearly 3 million votes.  If Hillary Clinton had been a man, if she had been “anatomically correct” for a presidential candidate, she would have swept the election and the electoral college, for she had experience, decorum, and intelligence.  All she lacked was a penis.

And it disgusts me that on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote in this nation, we still cannot pass an Equal Rights Amendment to legally give women equal rights under the Constitution.  Then again, we haven’t managed, after all these years, to pass an anti-lynching bill, either.  We still refuse to place a woman in the Oval Office.  Some churches in this country still teach that a woman’s place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant, subservient to her husband.  Elizabeth Warren would have made a great president.  Perhaps in another hundred years or so, the people of this country will accept that women are as capable as men of being leaders.  Obviously, it isn’t going to happen in my lifetime.

Another thing that disgusts me about the Democrats this year, or perhaps I should say about the Democratic Party, is that they are so determined to squeeze Bernie Sanders out.  Now, don’t get me wrong … I like Joe Biden just fine and will be happy as a lark if, by this time next year, we are talking about President Biden.  However, I don’t like the hatchet job that the Party is doing on Bernie Sanders.

There may be good reasons that Bernie is not the ‘best man for the job’, as our friend Gronda notes in her post this morning.    But, it should not be up to the Democratic Party to decide, nor the media.  It should be up to We the People.  That, my friends, is one of the principles upon which this nation was founded … that the people have the right to choose their leaders.  Will the people sometimes make mistakes?  Sure … that much is painfully obvious from the result we’ve lived with for over three years now.  But, it is still the people’s right to choose, not a handful of people who control the Party.

I would very much like to see the media use their loud voices to educate and inform, rather than to try to tell us what is good for us.  I’m willing to bet that more than half the people who are either registered Democrats or Independents don’t know the actual platforms of either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.  They hear that label, “democratic socialist” and that’s all they want to know.  They form their opinions directly from the opinions of whichever media personality they most like or most often watch.  The media could play such an important role, but instead they pander to gossip and emotion.

I strongly suspect that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and as I said, I’m fine with that.  I would love to see him pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, but I doubt that will happen.  My next best hope is that he will choose Senator Kamala Harris, who is an intelligent, well-spoken woman who I might have even voted for, had she not dropped out of the running early on.  It is time, folks, to drop those preconceived notions that a woman is “too emotional” or somehow just not qualified to sit in the Oval Office.  If Biden selects Harris, perhaps in time she will be our first woman president.  And about damn time, too!

So, folks, fasten your seat belts and prepare for the next four months of … The Bernie & Joe Show!

Open Letter To The Three Stooges

Dear Messrs. Donald Trump, John Michael (Mick) Mulvaney, and Michael Huckabee,

There is a time for having fun, a time for jokes and humour.  However, there is also a time to be serious.  I read with horror this morning Mr. Mulvaney’s comments, obviously intended to be funny, claiming that the reason the media was reporting extensively on the spread of the coronavirus was to try to “take down” Donald Trump.

If I took your comments seriously, Mr. Mulvaney, I would have asked you if, then, the entire world was attempting to “take down” Trump, since media outlets worldwide are providing continual coverage and updates on the spread of this illness.  But I realized that nobody with any sense would make such a statement except in jest, so while it annoyed me, I let it ride.

Then later in the day you, Mr. Trump, came along and made the same claim, only embellishing on the story with more jokes … jokes that were, under the circumstances, in very poor taste.  You took it even further and joked that you thought the democrats were behind the media coverage.  Again, if I took you seriously I would ask if you think the democrats control the media (hint:  they don’t), and if their reach extends to such media outlets as der Spiegel in Germany and the BBC in the UK, for those outlets are also providing widespread coverage.  But again, surely you are jesting.

And then, you, Mr. Mike Huckabee, had to try to top the Mulvaney/Trump acts with your own attempt at humour, saying that Trump …

“Could personally suck the virus out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean.”

Do you guys all share the same comedy writer?  If so, he really needs to retire.  First of all, there are far more than 60,000 people in the world … at last count, it was up to about 7.8 billion, I believe.  Secondly, there are very few people who would allow Mr. Trump to touch us, let alone “suck the virus … out of our lungs”.  And thirdly, of course, this is a ridiculous, ignorant thing to even say, and far beneath the dignity of a former governor and presidential candidate.

Now that you’ve had your little jokes, let me tell you gentlemen a few things here.

Part of the job of the media, whether in this country, Spain, Germany, or Brazil, is to inform the public of things they need to know.  The coronavirus, or Covid-19 as I believe it has been named, is a very serious threat to people all around the globe.  It is not unique to the United States but has become a serious threat to a number of countries, including Italy, China, Iran, Japan, and others.  It is NOT, gentlemen, something to joke about.  It is NOT something to use as a political tool, nor to use as an excuse to taunt the media.

Your attempts to downplay this widespread threat to human health and safety is a disservice to the people of this nation.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is spreading rapidly and is particularly likely to be lethal to people like myself who have chronic health problems and compromised immune systems.  There are already 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. and while there hasn’t been a fatality here yet, it is only a matter of time.

Your mockery and accusations are most inappropriate at this time and in these circumstances.  Your words would be unthinkable in any other administration, but the entire theme of this administration seems to be spouting ignorance, nonsense, vitriol, and blaming someone else for everything that goes wrong.  Yes, the stock market is plunging, not only in the U.S. but also the European markets, and it is NOT the fault of the media, NOT the fault of the Democrats.  And no, gentlemen, contrary to what you’ve tried to tell us, the United States is NOT well prepared to combat this pandemic.  Since January 2017, funding has been cut to health organizations such as CDC, and millions have lost their health insurance due to the hatchet job that has been done to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  We are every bit as vulnerable as any nation on earth.

In short, those who are not part of the solution, are part of the problem.  You, gentlemen, are definitely NOT doing anything to be a part of the solution, so please step aside and let the adults attempt to safeguard the people of this nation.

Sincerely,

We the People

Trump vs The 1st Amendment

Since the U.S. Senate handed Donald Trump the keys to the castle and told him to “have fun” and promised that “we’ve got your back” no matter what he does, he has been on quite a spree.  Last week, it was the firing of qualified career people within the administration and their replacement with highly unqualified people.  Then came the news that any non-loyalists, any not willing to basically swear an oath of fealty to Trump, would be fired and replaced with those loyal to the king Trump.

All last week, I waited for the other shoe to fall.  What ‘other shoe’ you ask?  The press, my friends.  Ever since the day he threw his hat in the proverbial ring in mid-2015, Trump has been denigrating the press, referring to them as “the enemy of the people”, attempting to revoke press passes of those like Jim Acosta who had the unmitigated gall to ask him the uncomfortable questions he didn’t want to answer.  And remember how, during his first year in office, he often threatened to change federal libel laws to make it more difficult for the free press to report the truth?

Yesterday morning it was announced that the Trump re-election campaign is filing a libel suit against the New York Times in the New York state court.  Their claim is that the Times had intentionally published a false opinion article that suggested Russia and the campaign had an overarching deal in the 2016 U.S. election.  The suit accuses the times of “extreme bias against and animosity toward the campaign,” and cited what it called the Times’ “exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.”

The New York Times responded with a statement:

“The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.”

Interestingly, the Times had not yet, at that point, been served official notice of the case, but rather had learned of it through media reports.

The case relates to a March 27, 2019, opinion article written by Max Frankel, a former executive editor of the Times who left the paper in 1994.

You may remember that the New York Times was involved in a landmark 1964 Supreme Court ruling that has served as a safeguard for media reporting on public figures. In the case New York Times v. Sullivan, the court decided that the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection for freedom of the press allows even statements that are false to be published as long as the publication was not done with “actual malice.”  Thus, the suit, according to the draft copy released by the campaign, accused the newspaper of a “malicious motive” and “reckless disregard for the truth.”

Now, note that this OpEd was written just under a year ago, and two years after Trump took office, and just under three weeks before the redacted version of the Mueller report was released.  The Mueller report documented Moscow’s campaign of hacking and social media propaganda to boost Trump’s 2016 candidacy and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. It also documented numerous contacts between people associated with Trump’s campaign and Russians.  What it did not do, as Trump claimed, was ‘exonerate’ him.

A portion of Frankel’s piece stated …

“Collusion – or a lack of it – turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump’s pursuers.  There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.”

All of which is, in this writer’s opinion, proven true.  And, although it took him two years, Trump did lift the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russia in January 2019.

A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign said yesterday …

“The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges The Times was aware of the falsity at the time it published them but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process.”

Well … seems to me the statements were true, but either way, it was an opinion piece written by somebody who was not on the Times’ staff.  Thing is, Trump has just been itching for an excuse to shred the “freedom of press” portion of the 1st Amendment since even before taking office.  Now that he is feeling newly emboldened, feeling invincible and that he can do anything he pleases, this is but his first step in the process of attempting to rein in the media.

Stuart Karle, an adjunct professor of media law at Columbia Journalism School, told Forbes the lawsuit is “an abuse of the court system and completely inappropriate.”  Karle said he didn’t think Trump’s campaign expects to win the case, and believes it was filed for political reasons: “It’s using the courts to argue with their critics.”

I don’t see how he could possibly win this case, but … it feels very much like a portent of things to come.  It feels very much as if this is designed to send a message to the media as a whole.  I don’t like it … not one bit.  At the very least, he is wasting taxpayer dollars, tying up the courts.  At the very most, he will gain the attention of his faithful followers who will, of course, be more convinced than ever in the months leading up to the election, that the press is against Trump and that they should not believe a word that is said about him unless it comes from his chosen Fox “News”.

Keep your eye on this ball, friends …