Tag Archives: First Amendment

Martha McSally is a creature of the military-industrial-congressional complex

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Raytheon) epitomizes what President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned this nation against in his farewell address in 1961:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

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We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Eisenhower’s orignal draft of the speech referred to the military-industrial-congressional complex.

In a series of negative campaign ads attacking her opponent, McSally presents a hyper-militarism. She always portrays herself in uniform for the persona of a  “woman warrior” to contrast with an old photo of Kyrsten Sinema in a pink tutu, as a girlie-girl “lefty-looney.”

The primary focus of McSally’s negative attack ads is to assert that Kyrsten Sinema “denigrated the service” of those in the military in protesting the Iraq war. Politifact rates this claim false, unsupported by any evidence. Did Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema protest troops in a pink tutu and denigrated their service?”

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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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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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SCOTUS punts on two gerrymandering cases

The U.S. Supreme Court began the day with 19 argued cases yet to be decided. This included two of the most highly anticipated cases of this term involving political gerrymandering, Gil v. Whitford (Wisconsin) and Benisek v. Lamone (Maryland).

Today the U.S. Supreme Court disappointed everyone by punting on these two cases. It was an anticlimactic end to these gerrymandering cases, which are likely to return in the future with additional cases moving through the appellate courts pipeline.

In Gil v. Whitford (.pdf) Chief Justice Roberts held that “The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate Article III standing.”

The right to vote is “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 561, and “voters who allege facts showing disad- vantage to themselves as individuals have standing to sue” to remedy that disadvantage, Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs here al- leged that they suffered such injury from partisan gerrymandering, which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters. To the extent that the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes, that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative. The boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, deter- mine whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or cracked. A plaintiff who complains of gerrymandering, but who does not live in a gerrymandered district, “assert[s] only a generalized grievance against governmental conduct of which he or she does not approve.” United States v. Hays, 515 U. S. 737, 745.

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Trump’s personal animosity for Jeffrey Bezos results in abuse of power a la Nixon

Included in the Articles of Impeachment for President Richard M. Nixon adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974 was Article 2 for “abuse of power,” which included ordering the IRS to audit his “political enemies” list.

We are now confronted with a parallel abuse of power by President Donald Trump, albeit by a different federal agency. The Washington Post reports, Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal  reported last month that White House officials, eager to help the president understand reality, have put together “PowerPoint presentations and briefing papers they believed debunked his concerns.”

Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery. See, Bloomberg, Trump Orders Post Office Review After Attacks on Amazon.

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