Category Archives: Ethics

Journalists are not the enemy

I mentioned in a previous post that The Boston Globe invited newspapers across the country to stand up for the free press with a coordinated series of newspaper editorials condemning Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” and suggestion that journalists are “the enemy of the people,” to be published on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (h/t Boston Globe graphic).

The New York Times editorial today links to  a selection from the hundreds of newspaper editorials across the country today that answered the clarion call of The Boston Globe. A FREE PRESS NEEDS YOU. (A Google search did not locate a complete list).

Here in Arizona, the Lee Enterprises owned Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, The press is not the enemy of the people, and the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson published editorials. Star Opinion: The free press is not the ‘enemy of the people’.

In southern Arizona, the Tucson Sentinel published an editorial, What we stand for at TucsonSentinel.com, as did the Sierra Vista HeraldWe’re Not The Enemy, and Green Valley News. EDITORIAL: Reflection needed for Trump, media.

While the national publication USA Today published an editorial, What our investigative journalists expose isn’t fake news, Arizona’s largest circulation newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in the USA Today network did not. Subscribers should demand to know why.

UPDATE: I am informed The Republic did publish an editorial, which I did not find onIine early this morning at azcentral.com. Good on them!

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Tyrant Trump has an ‘enemies list,’ abuses power to retaliate against his critics

I have been trying to avoid discussing the new season of Celebrity Apprentice: White House Edition with Amorosa Manigault-Newman.

But last night I happened to catch an interview of former CIA Director John Brennan on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell which was scheduled after this tweet yesterday:

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Lawrence O’Donnell wanted to know what Brennan meant by his comment “so dangerous to our Nation.” Watch the interview.

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It would appear that our egomaniacal narcissist Twitter-troll-in-chief “Dear Leader” must have been watching (although he would deny it) or reading his Twitter responses, because today the always vindictive and petty Trump revoked former CIA Director Brennan’s security clearance:

President Donald Trump has decided to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance for access to classified information, he said in a statement read by press secretary Sarah Sanders Wednesday.

The courtesy of allowing a former administration official to retain security clearance has been “outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” Trump said in the statement. “Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.”

He added that Brennan “has recently leveraged his status … to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and on television, about this administration.”

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NRSC asks Trump to endorse McSally, he is noncommittal (so sad!)

POLITICO reported last week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) asked President Donald Trump to intervene in the Arizona GOP Senate primary amid rising fears that the GOP will nominate an unelectable candidate and cede the seat to Democrats in November. Republicans ask Trump to intervene in contentious Arizona primary:

During a recent phone call, NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) asked the president to endorse GOP Rep. Martha McSally, widely viewed as the establishment favorite in the Aug. 28 primary, according to two senior Republicans familiar with the conversation.

Trump, according to one of the Republicans, was noncommittal and did not say yes or no to the request.

Maybe this is because McSally was noncommittal to Donald Trump in 2016, and Trump never forgets nor forgives those whom he perceives did him wrong. He is a vindictive man. If Trump endorses anyone, I would think it would be his loyal supporter, partner in crime and coconspirator in the Obama birther conspiracy, crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio. Trump already quasi-endorsed Arpaio with his politically motivated pardon of Arpaio. Just make it official.

McSally is facing former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, both of whom are running as conservative insurgents. Polls have consistently shown McSally leading in the primary, but Republicans fear that if Ward or Arpaio wins the nomination, it would effectively hand a victory to the expected Democratic nominee, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

Neither the White House nor the NRSC would comment.

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No on Prop. 126, the false and purposefully misleading Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act

The so-called Citizens for Fair Tax Policy Committee (it is actually the Arizona Association of Realtors)  is already running television ads for Prop. 126, a constitutional amendment titled the Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act.

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You have to go to their website to see a copy of this false and purposefully misleading ad designed to dupe the public. https://protectaztaxpayers.com.

This is a special interest initiative, not a true citizens initiative. And it is yet another example of an anti-tax ballot measure of the type that has gotten Arizona into the revenue deficit problem we have today.

It is a preemptive measure which is a solution in search of a non-existent problem — services are not subject to sales tax in Arizona — and likely will never be because of Prop. 108 (1992) the “Two-Thirds for Taxes Amendment,” the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction which requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber either to impose a new tax, or to eliminate or reduce a tax credit or tax exemption.

The legislature’s renewal of the school sales tax this past session to avoid sending it to the ballot for renewal was the first time since Prop. 108 passed in 1992 that the legislature has voted in favor of a new tax.

Annual attempts to clean up Arizona’s antiquated tax exemptions have been snuffed out by the special interests that benefit from them. There is no real threat of services being taxed.

A constitutional amendment to address a non-existent problem is the height of bad public policy.

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Free speech is not absolute, it comes with consequences and accountability

Social media platforms such as Apple, YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and other companies removed or banned the truly vile Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory mongering Infowars from their platforms over the past week or so.

In recent years, Conservatives Have Weaponized the First Amendment:

A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.

As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

“The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

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A crony capitalist ‘kitchen cabinet’ at Mar-a-Lago runs the VA – the Trump swamp

Republicans and their allies (e.g., The Arizona Republic) generated public outrage in recent years over the Phoenix VA health-care system scandal: An Arizona Republic Investigation. It led to staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs being fired, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin resigning (or was he fired?) over his travel expense scandal. David Shulkin says he was fired. The White House says he quit.

So it is rather surprising that this new investigative report from ProPublica is barely receiving a mention today in the news. It appears that our “Dear Leader” has a crony capitalist “kitchen cabinet” at Mar-a-Lago — none of whom have military service or experience in running a large federal agency — being allowed to dictate policy and personnel at the VA. This is the next big VA scandal. The Shadow Rulers of the VA:

Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

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