Tag Archives: free speech

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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National School Walkout today at 10:00 a.m.

Today at 10:00 a.m., students across Arizona will walkout of their classrooms for a 17 minute vigil in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Philip Boas of The Republic writes, Why every adult should support students’ March 14 walkout:

If you believe young people shouldn’t be walking out of their classrooms on Wednesday to protest gun violence in America, if you believe this is a waste of precious classroom time and only encourages chaos and defiance …

you are wrong.

The kids are right.

These young people are citizens of this country, and every citizen has the right to commit acts of civil disobedience in the face of great wrongs.

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Sen. John McCain joins Sen. Jeff Flake in defending the free press from Donald Trump’s ‘fake news’ assault (updated)

Senator Jeff Flake announced earlier this week that he will give a speech Wednesday regarding our “Dear Leader’s” penchant to portray the free press as “the enemy of the people,” a phrase employed by Joseph Stalin to silence the media. Sen. Jeff Flake hangs the Stalin label on Trump for attacking the free press.

Today, Sen. Flake’s seatmate, Senator John McCain, joins him in defending the free press against Donald Trump’s attacks on the free press in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Mr. President, stop attacking the press:

After leaving office, President Ronald Reagan created the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to recognize individuals who have fought to spread liberty worldwide. Nancy Reagan continued the tradition after her husband’s death, and in 2008 she bestowed the honor on human rights icon Natan Sharansky, who credited Reagan’s strong defense of freedom for his own survival in Soviet gulags. Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world.

President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way. He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing “fake news awards” upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with. Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 2017 was one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist. Last year, the organization documented 262 cases of journalists being imprisoned for their work. Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth.

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Keep the press free: We can’t let Democrats become Republicans

Listening52-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

For years, the Republican campaign style has been increasingly restrictive.

George W. Bush started it all. McCain, Palin, and others who followed fine-tuned the information control tactics– requiring pre-registration and tickets for political events, banning political signs, and requiring pre-approved questions.

During the 2010 elections, this trend evolved into paid admission for political events (not just fundraising events), few if any audience questions, and elimination of photography and videotaping. Teapublicans in 2010 became so hostile to the press– or anyone who challenged their ideas– that physical dust-ups occurred. (Does anyone remember Joe Miller?) 

Fast forward to the 2012 elections and we see a disturbing trend: Democrats adopting Republican information control techniques. The most recent incident was May 26 at a Cochise County Democratic Party Candidates Forum. US Senate candidates Dr. David Ruben and Dr. Richard Carmona were scheduled to speak, along with Jeremy Lasher, Southern Arizona Field Organizer for the Ron Barber campaign.

A beautiful day in Sierra Vista, local Democrats gathered in the shade for a picnic and political speeches. Everything was sunny until video blogger and Cochise County Democratic Party Precinct Committee (PC) Person Alison McLeod started videotaping the speeches. The first hint of a problem came when Lasher covered his face with a clipboard and muttered something about Facebook, as he entered the backyard of a private home where the candidates’ forum was being held. (You can see him and his clipboard in the video below.)

McLeod successfully filmed Ruben's speech and mingling local Democrats, but when Carmona started his standard stump speech, campaign operative and Communications Director Andy Barr insisted that she stop filming. The situation degenerated to the point where a Cochise County Democrat covered the lens of McLeod's camera and asked her to leave. 

In an era where many citizens carry the Internet and a video camera in their pockets, this attempt to control distribution of messages is naive at best and heavy-handed at worst. For a candidate who touts transparency, it is ill-advised for Carmona to allow his staff to deny press coverage of speeches and activities.

Yes, this event was held in the backyard of a private home, but it was a Democratic Party event (not a private party), candidates delivered campaign speeches, and it was freely publicized on the Internet. From the Cochise County Democratic Party website…

Upcoming Activities and Events

  • Monday, April 30, 2012, Cochise County Democratic Committee meeting Democratic Office, 1010 E. Fry Blvd., Sierra Vista – 6:00 PM.
  • Saturday, May 5, 2012, West End Fair – Fry Blvd., Sierra Vista, 11:00AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, May 26, 2012, May Fundraiser Picnic and Candidates Forum – more details to follow

In my opinion, this candidates’ forum was a public event, and McLeod had every right as a citizen journalist– not to mention a Democratic Party PC and a Carmona supporter– to film the speeches and publish them.

McLeod and I have videotaped and published stories about candidate speeches at multiple Democratic Party events with no restrictions… until Barr joined the Carmona campaign and instituted new press rules. Barr informed each of us (on separate occasions) that the press is not allowed to attend and cover certain campaign events.

Although McLeod's run-in with Barr occurred at a Democratic Party event in the backyard of a private home, mine occurred after a Democratic Party event at Hotel Congress several weeks ago. The day after I filmed the 30-minute speech (excerpted here and published here), I got a call from Barr. Having worked in public relations for many years, I assumed he was being a conscientious media relations person and following up to see if I needed more information before publishing my story. (At the event, I had introduced myself as a blogger for the Tucson Citizen and the Huffington Post to Carmona, who seemed totally cool about everything, and chatted with me for a few minutes as a dozen other people snapped pictures—and probably shot cell phone video.)

Unfortunately, Barr was following up to tell me I should not have attended the event and should not have filmed it because the press was not allowed to attend. I was shocked, really, and told him that I was invited to the event and had RSVP’d; I assumed I was invited because I am a political blogger and videographer. In our multi-e-mail exchange, I warned Barr that in Southern Arizona, there’s a blogger with a video camera around every corner and that the campaign should just deal with it… instead of trying to fight it. How can the campaign invite the party faithful to hear Carmona’s message and weed out the bloggers and video enthusiasts? They can’t, and trying makes them look naïve.

In actuality, seven of Tucson’s most prolific political bloggers are (or have been) Democratic Party PCs—Three Sonorans, Poco Bravo, AZ Blue Meanie, Mike Bryan, Dave Safir, Tedski, and moi. Many of those guys are (or have been) on the Pima County Democratic Party Executive Committee and/or the Arizona Democratic Party Statewide Committee. Also, there are blogging PCs in Maricopa County and elsewhere in the state.

In an era where regular newspapers cover a fraction of the news they used to and television news shows have been reduced to book tour publicity venues and celebrity news, citizens need social media, blogs, and alternative news sources to be informed.

Dr. Carmona, in the spirit of President Thomas Jefferson, who wanted to mail newspapers to every American, let the press be free.