Category: Media

The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West

913px-Santo_Domingo_en_oraciónI have previously written about the continued use of blasphemy laws in the West, including Spain and Ireland.  The continued enforcement of medieval concepts of blasphemy as evidenced by the detention of Willy Toledo, who was accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary in court. Toledo is being targeted due to comments made on social media in support of three women who are being prosecuted for blasphemy.   It is chilling to think that an actual judge would hold such a hearing in modern times.  The nation that gave us the Spanish Inquisition still claims the right to imprison people for insulting God.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws as well as blasphemy laws. Continue reading “The Spanish Inquisition: Actor Becomes Latest Blasphemy Target In The West”

Trump Versus George Washington: GW Stands By Mortality Findings From Puerto Rico

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped150px-GWUlogoGeorge Washington University has found itself in the eye of the storm over Hurricane Maria after President Donald Trump has lashed out at its findings that roughly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico rather than a couple dozen cited by President Trump.  Trump has called the widely cited GW study “inflated” but the university (where I teach) is standing by its findings. Top Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks and leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan went public to say that there is no reason to doubt the GW findings. Even Trump supporter Florida Gov. Rick Scott who is running for the Senate tweeted “I disagree with @POTUS

 

Continue reading “Trump Versus George Washington: GW Stands By Mortality Findings From Puerto Rico”

A Bill Comes Due: Susan Collins Faces Rising Demands To Fulfill Her Promise To Vote Against A Presumed Anti-Roe Nominee

440px-Susan_Collins_official_Senate_photoBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the rising pressure on Sen. Susan Collins over her vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  There is considerable anger over Collins maintaining that she would never vote for a nominee hostile to Roe v. Wade but refusing to acknowledge the widespread view of Kavanaugh as not only hostile to the reasoning of Roe but appointed by a president who promised only to nominate an anti-Roe justice.  As with Neil Gorsuch, Collins appears inclined to vote for Kavanaugh despite her oft-repeated pledge.   She insists that she is comfortable after Kavanaugh told her that Roe is “settled” law.  However, many have put Collins’ position as falling somewhere between hopeful thinking and willful blindness.  As discussed below, the unsettling thing about settled law is that only five votes make anything truly settled on the Court.

Adding to the political dimension are polls showing that the hearings did not produce a bump for confirmation.  The latest polling shows 38 percent in favor of Kavanaugh and 39 percent opposed. 

Here is the column: Continue reading “A Bill Comes Due: Susan Collins Faces Rising Demands To Fulfill Her Promise To Vote Against A Presumed Anti-Roe Nominee”

GW To Host Annual Supreme Court Review

Supreme CourtI will have the pleasure of participating in the annual Supreme Court review today previewing the upcoming October term.  The other panelists will be former Solicitor General Gregory Garre, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill.  Associate Dean (and Supreme Court litigator) Alan Morrison will moderate the panel.

Previewing the Supreme Court’s October Term 2018” will be held in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 2000 H St NW, Washington, D.C. at 9:00.m. Continue reading “GW To Host Annual Supreme Court Review”

Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel

09dc-butina-jumboYesterday, we discussed the prosecution of accused Russian agent Maria Butina and how prosecutors put out clearly false allegations that she traded sex for favors.  Butina’s defense counsel Robert Driscoll called out the government for the clearly baseless allegations spread throughout the media.  U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has now responded by gagging counsel, an order that has become all too common in federal cases. Continue reading “Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel”

British Police Department Calls On Citizens To Report Non-Criminal Offensive or Insulting Comments

download-1We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech. Now the South Yorkshire police department is making it clear that it does not just want citizens to report crimes but “incidents” involving offensive or insulting comments. This follows an effort to make wolf whistles a crime in England.

Continue reading “British Police Department Calls On Citizens To Report Non-Criminal Offensive or Insulting Comments”

The Real Spartacus Moment: How The Kavanaugh Hearing Played Out A Familiar Tale Of Ambition and Hubris

Tod_des_Spartacus_by_Hermann_Vogel.jpgBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the controversial declaration of Sen. Cory Booker (D, NJ) that he was taking his “Spartacus” stand in releasing a restricted, non-public document regardless of the consequences. Well, it was not quite a dramatic as suggested since the document was in fact already public.   As should come as no surprise to many of you who know my love for military history, I did however appreciate the reference.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Real Spartacus Moment: How The Kavanaugh Hearing Played Out A Familiar Tale Of Ambition and Hubris”

Moore Sues Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen For Embarrassing Interview

Judge_Roy_MooreFormer Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has long been an perpetual litigation machine. Indeed, Moore and his wife appear to have created a cottage industry out of being themselves — getting people to give them huge amounts of money to fight their enemies.  I have been skeptical of these past lawsuits — as well as Moore’s often bizarre conduct.  Now, after the prior lawsuit amounted to nothing, Moore is launching yet another lawsuit. The latest claim is based on Moore’s sitdown with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his Showtime series “Who is America?” Essentially, Moore is complaining that he made of fool of himself because Cohen tricked him.  Moore has demanded $95 million in punitive and compensatory damages.  Despite my long admitted aversion to Moore, the complaint does raise some interesting, and unresolved, legal issues. It also presents some risks for Moore himself. Continue reading “Moore Sues Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen For Embarrassing Interview”

Not OK: Liberal Bloggers Falsely Attack Kavanaugh Supporter For Flashing White Supremacist Sign At Hearing

download-3The hysteria and hypocrisy that characterizes modern American politics seems to be worse by the day on both sides of the political aisle.  One of the latest examples of distemper is an attack on the woman who was placed behind Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for his hearings.  Handlers will often put someone over the shoulder of a nominee for the right optics to reflect his supporters.  With attacks over his view of Roe v. Wade, it is not surprising that the White House chose a young former female clerk of Kavanaugh named Zina Gelman Bash. Bash however found herself being called a white supremacist for flashing an “OK” gesture associated with the “white power” movement.  It seems clearly to be just the arbitrary positioning of her hands but liberal bloggers like Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of the feminist advocacy group New Agenda, went into full riot over the alleged reveal of Bash’s white power links.  The problem is that Bash has Jewish roots and Mexican heritage and has absolutely no ties or association with such groups. She simply crossed her arms and fingers during the long hearing.  It is the ultimate sign of our times in how we have lost all decency and decorum in our politics. Continue reading “Not OK: Liberal Bloggers Falsely Attack Kavanaugh Supporter For Flashing White Supremacist Sign At Hearing”

The Notorious RBG and the Problem With The Celebrity Justice

download-2Below is my column in The Hill on the continuing promotionals for “The Notorious RBG.”  I have long been a critic of this trend toward celebrity justices and the discomfort over these campaigns is not simply about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The culture of the Court is changing and I do not believe it is  changing for the better.

Here is the column:
Continue reading “The Notorious RBG and the Problem With The Celebrity Justice”

Source: FBI Given Evidence Accusing Mueller Witness Of Alleged “Blackmail” Following His Cooperation Agreement With The Special Counsel

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 10.25.53 AM.pngThis weekend I discussed a surprising, and unreported, allegation made on CNN by former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against the latest cooperating witness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former Republican lobbyist and Paul Manafort associate, Sam Patten.  Saakashvili preceded me on CNN and accused Patten of threatening to ruin him if he went public with allegations about Patten’s work with Russian interests in Georgia.  Since Saakashvili could easily be called as a rebuttal witness to Patten, the threats could be viewed as witness tampering.  Saakashvili viewed them as outright Russian-style blackmail.  Since I ran that column, I have heard from a great number of people on both sides, but I received an email this morning from Christina Pushaw, who identifies herself as Saakashvili’s representative.  Pushaw sent the underlying material supporting Saakashvili’s charges and confirmed that they have given the allegation and evidence to the FBI today.  The complaint to the FBI only magnifies the problems for both Patten and Mueller that I discussed earlier. A submission to the FBI, including a criminal allegation, comes with added penalties for false statements or submissions.  Both sides in this dispute have been the subject of serious criminal allegations in Europe.  Yet, such communications (if true) from a cooperating witness would unlikely be approved by prosecutors. Mueller’s team is about to present its prosecution of Paul Manafort for witnessing tampering for contacting potential witnesses to shape their accounts.  That creates a rather awkward situation when its most recent cooperative witness is allegedly the subject of a complaint to the FBI.

Continue reading “Source: FBI Given Evidence Accusing Mueller Witness Of Alleged “Blackmail” Following His Cooperation Agreement With The Special Counsel”

Mueller Witness Accused Of Blackmailing World Leader After Plea Agreement [Updated]

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 10.25.53 AM.pngA curious thing happened this Labor Day weekend when one of Robert Mueller’s most recent cooperating witnesses may have burst into flames on national television – but no one seemed to notice. Former Republican lobbyist and Paul Manafort associate, Sam Patten, only pleaded guilty on Friday, but on Sunday a world leader leveled a serious allegation of criminal conduct committed after his plea bargain. Obviously, this is only one side and Patten could well deny either the email or its meaning. However, the implications of the allegations aired on national television are very serious not only for Patten but Mueller. Update: a complaint has now reportedly been made to the FBI. Continue reading “Mueller Witness Accused Of Blackmailing World Leader After Plea Agreement [Updated]”

In Search Of The “Happier Prospect”: Trump Moves Toward The Removal Of McGahn and Sessions

160px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_Trump_(cropped)Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the departure of White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Trump is now strongly suggesting that he may allow Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remain but only until after the approaching November elections.  At that point, the situation could change rapidly and dangerously with a divided Congress.  With the expected departure of both McGahn and Sessions, the next chapter appears a paraphrase of Dick the Butcher in Henry VI ”The first thing we dolet’s kill fire all the lawyers.”  Obviously, much will depend on their replacements but Sessions’ removal (and the reason for the removal) is far more problematic. Continue reading “In Search Of The “Happier Prospect”: Trump Moves Toward The Removal Of McGahn and Sessions”

Texas Teacher Hit With $109,000 Bill Despite Having Insurance . . . Bill Reduced To $332 After Media Coverage

Continue reading “Texas Teacher Hit With $109,000 Bill Despite Having Insurance . . . Bill Reduced To $332 After Media Coverage”

CNN Sticks With Story That Cohen Alleges Trump Knew Of Trump Tower Meeting Despite Cohen and His Lawyer Denying The Story

200px-Cnn.svgCNN is facing rising questions over its refusal to correct its earlier bombshell story entitled “Cohen Claims Trump Knew In Advance Of 2016 Trump Tower Meeting.”  As I discussed recently, Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis now admits that he was the anonymous source for that story (after publicly denying that he was the source) and that he has no information to support the allegation. Cohen himself testified to Congress that he had no such information.  One would think that the denial of both Cohen and his lawyer (and original source) would alter that story that “Cohen claims Trump knew . . . ”  CNN however says that it had multiple sources for the story and sticks with the reporting by Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein and Marshall CohenContinue reading “CNN Sticks With Story That Cohen Alleges Trump Knew Of Trump Tower Meeting Despite Cohen and His Lawyer Denying The Story”