Category Archives: Judiciary

A Clear and Present Danger

I’ve been avoiding this issue for months. I just got tired about writing about Donald J. Trump. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that he simply could not keep up the pace. He could not commit, every single day of his administration, a bigger travesty than the one he had committed the day before.

I was wrong.

So here is the first of what will be a long stretch of blogs on Trump and the nation. The Trump reaction to a week of protests is just the latest manifestation. The groundwork had already been laid and was in the open for everyone to see. Take a look at April 17, 2020, the day a sitting President of these United States incited violent revolution. Here were Trump’s tweets:

Three calls to arms, to “LIBERATE,” one invoking the 2nd Amendment on gun ownership, all directed at states with popularly elected Democratic governors, who just happened to offend Trump in one way or another.

In the last week of May the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by police in Minneapolis led to protests which led to looting and arson. When the nation needed a calming voice, this is what Trump and then the official White House Twitter account tweeted:

Trump’s comment, “When the shooting starts…” is a 1967 quote from white Miami police chief Walter Headley, who targeted blacks ahead of the Republican convention. The words were repeated in 1968 by George Wallace, the staunch segregationist who was four time governor of Alabama. With these words Trump threatened to shoot his own citizens. A week later, he did just that.

Twitter initially blocked Trump’s tweet for “glorifying violence.” When the official White House account repeated the tweet, Twitter flagged it with the warning seen above. In response to Twitter’s decision to flag these tweets and others from Trump which the company believes promote lies or violence, Trump issued an executive order asking the Justice Department to look into legal remedies. Just what Trump’s lap dog attorney general will do is anyone’s guess. But while most legal scholars do not see the government having grounds to interfere with a private company such as Twitter, with the right wing zealots Trump and his Senate henchman Mitch McConnell have been putting on the federal bench in recent years who knows what will happen in the courts.

Remember, before he was elected Trump is the guy who bragged about having a concealed carry permit and often carrying a firearm although he was always in the company of a bodyguard who was built like an NFL defensive lineman. Now of course tough guy Trump is surrounded by the U. S. Secret Service. Typical of hypocrites, people who attend Trump rallies are not allowed to bring guns. Nor are visitors to the White House or the Senate’s public gallery. In fact, you can’t bring any guns to Capitol Hill.

But the Trump mob protesting state lockdowns to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 have no problem bringing assault rifles to the capitols of Michigan and Kentucky. Trump has repeatedly encouraged them and also supported protestors carrying guns and Nazi symbols because, in his mind, some of them are “good people.”

Trump is the guy who called out reporters during his campaign rallies and pointed them out to the crowds, prompting the Secret Service to escort the reporters to their cars after the rally to protect them on several occasions.

Even now, after the Secret Service had to temporarily lock down the White House because of unruly crowds gathering outside to protest Floyd killing, Trump was almost drooling at the thought of the agents engaged in violent confrontation with the protestors.

These are not the writings of a sane man. These are graphic descriptions of what he likes and how he would like things to be. This is not hyperbole, or speech uttered with a wink and a nod meant to solidify support from his “base.” This is “inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action,” which the Supreme Court says is not entitled to free speech protection.

The current massive mobilization of the innumerable Federal agencies authorized to physically enforce their own “rule of law” on the general population goes beyond anything a so-called government of the people has a right to implement.

Trump is a clear and present danger to the Constitution and the nation.

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The Justices Take a Landmark Step. Unwillingly.

Mark your calendar. Beginning May 4 and ending May 13, the Supreme Court of the United States will make history. It took the coronavirus pandemic to do it, but over six dates the Court will hear oral arguments on ten cases, and the people of the United States will be able for the first time to hear those arguments as they happen.

This is happening because the Court, like most of us, is practicing Covid-19 social distancing protocols, with the justices and staff working mostly from their homes. The Court first delayed these arguments, then decided to hold the hearings via teleconference.

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L’état n’est pas Donald Trump

L’affaire Trump has entered a new stage. In a scathing eight page letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, White House counsel Pat Cipollone declared that Donald Trump “cannot participate” in the House’s impeachment inquiry, complaining the “inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections.”

The Trumpies of course love the letter even though it reads like Trump himself sketched it out, filling it with his long list of lies and manufactured grievances, and then handed it to Cipollone. I can imagine Cipollone struggling to take out Trump’s usual adjectives like, “lil’ Adam Schiff,” and adding some legalese. The resulting argument would get a failing grade in anyone’s first year Constitutional Law course.

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The Whistle Blows for Trump

I won’t even try to fight it, as I did in my last blog. Now the whistleblower’s complaint has been released and so was a summary memo describing the telephone conversation Donald Trump had with the President of Ukraine.

Please, I beg you. READ the complaint and the telephone call memo. Make up your own mind. Beware the pundits and the spinners. Even me. It remains both inexplicable and frustrating to me that two people can look at the same material and come to different conclusions. But that’s life. What I can’t abide is people voicing an opinion without having read the material. Each document is only a handful of pages long. Make the effort.

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RE: Barr Memo RE: Meuller Report

I thought we should wait to write about the Mueller Report until we had actually read it. Silly me.

We have now seen an incalculable amount of ink and airtime expended reporting on and analyzing the report by special counsel Robert Mueller into “any links and/or consultation between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

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Journalism? When Pigs Fly!

I could never have anticipated this post. In fact, I can see myself sitting in my journalism class alongside my friends, Marc, Mark and David, Alanna and Lori, and my professors, Isaacs, Patterson, Wood and Friendly. What I wonder, would have happened if I had predicted that 45 years later I would write, and publish where anyone in the world could see it, a commentary containing a reference to a “dick pic”? Never have received my degree, probably.

For those of you who have been on the far side of the moon, shielded from any electromagnetic radiation emanating from earth, a quick recap. Jeff Bezos, who the style books demand must be referred to as, “Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world,” on first reference, woke up one morning to find himself on the front page of the National Enquirer.

bezos-enquirer-div

One generally finds the Enquirer at the supermarket checkout, where it might come in handy if the store is out of toilet paper. This issue featured the details of Bezos’ impending divorce, along with pictures of Bezos and a woman, not his wife, who he was reportedly seeing.

In spite of the headline, I am not going to argue that this report is not journalism. The press has a special place in the history of the United States. It is the only occupation specifically protected by the Constitution. The framers who wrote that document knew exactly what they were doing. They had employed the press to spread the word, sometimes false, about British abuse of colonialists. That helped fan the flames of insurrection. In fact, I’ve often thought the British might have won the Revolutionary War if they had just confiscated every printing press in America.

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Justice Kavanaugh

It’s Justice Kavanaugh now. Damn it.

Not that there was really any suspense. The Republican take-over of the federal courts has been a decades long project and, as usual, the lackluster resistance of the Democrats has been powerless to stop it. It does not matter that Americans, by a 51-41 percent margin, disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Americans preferred the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. A lot of good that did her.

I can hear it now. Even from some friends and relatives. “You’re just a ‘g d’ east coast liberal Democrat.” And then there’s, “Elections have consequences.” Thank you Lindsey Graham. First of all, I’m from Chicago. Not even close to either coast. Second, I was born into a very Republican family and I have voted for many Republicans over the years. But the Republicans I respected are either dead, retired, or primaried out of office. What’s left is a group of people who see politics as a blood sport where winning is everything. People for whom cooperation is anathema and no tactic out of bounds on the road to victory.

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