The crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia knows few bounds. Vladimir Putin’s image or name are often treated as virtually sacred as when people were arrested for showing the authoritarian leader in underwear or spitting on his image in protest. Now the Russian Justice ministry has banned this image of Putin as a gay clown as “gay propaganda” promoting homosexuality. Of course, the greater concern may be promoting free speech in a nation rapidly replacing individual rights with a cult of personality.
CBS may be the “Tiffany Network” but the Tiffany Li network appears far more flush these days. CBS is reporting that Li was given a $35 million bail for her alleged murder of her husband, Keith Green. That is an amount clearly intended to put release beyond the reach of anyone, but Li’s friends have ponied up the full amount. It just might be the largest bail of its kind.
I have written about my mixed views of coverage of President Donald Trump. On one hand, he has caused much of the negative coverage with sensational and insulting tweets — as well as unforced errors by his White House staff. On the other hand, I have never seen more biased coverage by some major outlets which fail to offer counterarguments in favor of Trump or ignore developments supporting his claims. The recent disclosure that the unmasking of Trump aides may have been ordered by President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice is a case in point. The most recent story was published by Bloomberg News. The startling disclosure was all but ignored by major outlets and networks or given only passing attention. As I have said on air, the unmasking allegation is a serious one and it is made all the more serious by the denials of Rice that she had any knowledge of any unmasking. [Update: Rice has gone on air and, while refusing to address the requests to unmask these individuals, she insisted that such requests are not unusual and, if done, were not done for political purposes. She did not deny that she was indeed the person asking for the unmasking of the individuals.]
Below is my recent column in The Hill Newspaper on the increased U.S. involvement in the fighting in Syria and Yemen. As usual, there is little concern (beyond Sen. Rand Paul) over the sending of troops into foreign conflicts without congressional approval or anything resembling a specific declaration of war. Indeed, when members insist that modern national security threats do not make specific declarations or authorizations practical, they sound much like “living constitution” advocates. Yet, we have now engaged in hundreds of military actions with only a small number of declarations and a small percentage of authorizations. As the Framers feared, war has become a continual and unilateral exercise of executive authority.
While the United States government often discusses the threat of Iran in spreading Islamic extremism, it is often silent on the same influence of our close allies in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other countries. Pakistan is reportedly moveing to eviscerate any remaining separation of mosque and state buy making Quran education compulsory in not just public but private schools.
We recently discussed the shocking effort by a California Democratic legislator to curtail free speech in a reckless effort to combat “fake news.” Now the Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has brought an equally chilling criminal case against two anti-abortion activists responsible for the videotapes that triggered national protests against Planned Parenthood. The 15 felony counts against David Daleiden and Susan Merritt are breathtaking and even warranted a rebuke from the Los Angeles Times. The prosecution could represent a radical shift toward prosecuting activists from environmentalists to animal right activists to pro life/pro choice protesters in their effort to record alleged abuses or violations.
Washington is abuzz with the news that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has offered to cooperate with congressional investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The offer was reportedly made by his lawyer to both the FBI and Congress. This has triggered a gleeful media frenzy as commentators hold forth on what damaging information Flynn might offer in exchange for immunity. However, the offer could also reflect a general preference of lawyers for immunity before allowing their clients to face potentially wide ranging interrogations or testimony. Update: President Trump has said that Flynn should demand immunity.