Category: Media

Bolton’s Win Could Cost Him More Than Just Profits

John_R._BoltonOn Saturday, federal district court judge Royce Lamberth denied a motion to enjoin the release of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book in a 10-page order.  The book, titled “The Room Where it Happened,” is already in circulation with reporters literally standing outside of the courthouse reading from it.  As argued in the column before the decision, Lamberth rejected the injunction.  However, he lambasted Bolton for his failure to complete the classification review that he agreed to as part of his taking the position with President Donald Trump.  There are already possibly classified subjects being teased out of the book by the media.  Lamberth decried the fact that Bolton has “gambled with national security” and said that his actions “raise grave national security concerns” but “the damage is done.” Perhaps it is done for the release but the damage to Bolton may only be beginning. As Lamberth noted, he now faces civil and criminal liability, which are discussed in the column. 

Here is the column: Continue reading “Bolton’s Win Could Cost Him More Than Just Profits”

Syracuse Student Newspaper Sacks Columnist After Questioning “Institutional Racism”

downloadWe recently discussed the apology of the New York Times for publishing a column from a leading United States Senator on the possible use of troops to quell rioting after the death of George Floyd.  That decision, and the sacking of the opinion page editor, represented one of the lowest moments in American journalism.  It made echo journalism the official policy of one of the oldest news organizations in the United States.  The lesson was not, it appears, lost on young college journalists at Syracuse University who sacked a columnist because she questioned claims of “institutional racism.” Adrianna San Marco notably did not write her opinion in The Daily Orange but she was canned for challenging this widely held view.  My greatest concern is the lack of specificity from the editors on the objections to her column beyond “reinforcing stereotypes.”  Such actions demand a clarity in the standard being applied to writers.

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Democrats Hit Bolton After He Accuses The House Of “Impeachment Malpractice”

John_R._Bolton440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photoLast year, in columns and testimony, I chastised the Democrats for the shortest investigation on the narrowest grounds with the thinnest record of any presidential impeachment in history.  The insistence of impeaching by Christmas doomed any chances of a compelling impeachment case.  It appears now that one person agrees with that assessment: former National Security Adviser John Bolton.  I referenced Bolton and his upcoming book as one of the reason why a little more time could vastly improve and expand the House case.  Bolton said that he simply wanted a court to refer the privilege claim, which could have been accomplished easily in the time wasted by the House (including the long delay in sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate).  In response, the Democratic leadership is lashing out at Bolton for refusing to come forward despite his offer to do so after a federal judge heard the privilege claim.

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Google Targets Conservative Sites In Latest Crackdown

250px-googleGoogle has moved against another set of conservative sites. While many have celebrated the action against ZeroHedge and The Federalist, I remain deeply concerned over the free speech implications of such actions. I have written for years about public and private censorship, including recent actions to regulate and control speech on the Internet. Democratic leaders have been calling for censorship on the Internet and in social media for years, a move that will destroy the greatest forum for free speech in the history of the world.  Writers have joined in this movement and two such academics recently declared “China was right” all along about censorship.

As will come as no surprise to many on this blog, I view this latest action as another form of private censorship that targets conservative sites while ignoring similar rhetoric from the left.  I am not very complex when it comes to such conflicts over free speech.  I am not as much concerned with the merits of these fights as the implication of targeting some sites over others.  I know very little about ZeroHedge while I am familiar with some of the writers on The Federalist. Google has said comparatively little about the reason for barring the sites and what NBC originally reported has been contradicted by the company. However, it is the explanation given for the action taken against the Federalist that I wanted to address.  It seems to follow the pattern of politically biased, content-based discrimination against conservative sites by companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google.  Despite the clear bias shown in these actions, most academics are either applauding the crackdown or remaining conspicuously silent as companies silence those with opposing or unpopular views.

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Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe Under Fire For Referring To The Selection Of African-American Vice President As “Cosmetics”

120406010959-laurence-tribe-headshot-story-bodyHarvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe is under fire this week after referring to the selection of an African American for vice president over Sen. Elizabeth Warren as mere “cosmetics.” The comment set off a firestorm with critics calling the comment racist.  I have strongly disagreed with Tribe’s legal positions and his rhetoric. However, I testified with Tribe during the Clinton impeachment and I have interacted with him for years. He is neither a racist nor dismissive of racial concerns.  Tribe has spent his life fighting for his vision of a more perfect and equal union.  People need to afford others a modicum of decency and consideration in such ill-considered commentary.  Anyone who believes that Laurence Tribe is a racist is discarding decades of public interest work over a wayward comment.

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Vermont Principal Put On Leave For Not Agreeing With Black Lives Matters

Freedom_of_SpeechWe have yet another teacher suspended or put on leave for merely expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page.  After Tiffany Riley wrote that she does not agree with the BLM, the Mount Ascutney School Board held an emergency meeting to declare that it is “uniformly appalled” by the exercise of free speech and Superintendent David Baker assured the public that they would be working on “mutually agreed upon severance package.”  The case magnifies concerns over the free speech rights of teachers on social media or in their private lives. As a public employee, Riley could seek judicial relief rather than a severance package under the First Amendment.

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Bolton’s Bold Move Could Result in Loss Of His Profits Or His Freedom

John_R._BoltonFormer National Security Adviser John Bolton has pledged to release his new tell-all book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” regardless of the lack of pre-publication approval from the Administration. This includes an ABC special this weekend to kick off his release. The move is extremely risky and the law is not on the side of Bolton who could conceivably not only lose his profits but his freedom over such a dispute.

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Chopped: How Seattle Is Defining Leadership In Seattle And Washington

Jenny_Durkandonald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column in the Hill on the controversy over the creation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, better known as Chaz.  Well, it was Chaz. “The autonomous zone formerly known as CHAZ” is now the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). As W.C. Fields said “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” The problem is that Chief Best said no one is answering their calls.  Chief Carmen Best stated today that the name had apparently changed but that they have yet to identify people who will speak for CHAZ or CHOP. She also noted that there appears to be widely different demands. That presents a serious barrier to a resolution.

RIP CHAZ. All Hail CHOP, but the question of leadership remains.  Here is the column:

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Res Ipsa Hits 42,000,000

crowd vj dayToday, we passed the 42,000,000 mark in views on the blog. The blog continues to grow at a record pace. The continued growth is due primarily to our loyal readers who return every day to discuss contemporary legal, political, and occasionally bizarre stories. We have used these moments to give thanks for our many regular readers around the world and give you an idea of the current profile of readers on the blog. We continue to rank with the top legal blogs in the world  and I am particularly proud of our growing international readership. As always, I want to offer special thanks for Darren Smith who has continued to help manage the blog and help out folks who encounter posting problems.

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“We Mean Literally Abolish The Police”: Activists Reject Spin On Movement’s Call To Defund The Police

SansculottesThe New York Times has run an opinion column by Mariame Kaba denouncing efforts by Democratic leaders and the media to try to spin the call for defunding the police as just a reallocation of funds and a new set of priorities and a new structure for policing.  Kaba wrote “Yes, we mean literally abolish the police.”  That opinion piece follows a warning by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that Democrats and others trying to “repackage” the push to “Defund the Police”   Notably, while the New York Times apologized for publishing an opinion piece by a ranking U.S. Senator on the use of federal troops to quell rioting, it has now problem with publishing a column calling for the abolishment of police.  As discussed earlier, this is a movement that is moving rapidly to the left and repackaging is now considered counter-revolutionary.

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Bowser’s Historical Revision: Before Lafayette Park, There Was Pershing Park

Muriel_Bowser_official_photoBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s unquestioned statements about how she is shocked by the federal actions against peaceful demonstrators.  Bowser told CNN’s Cooper “I think I’ve been shocked all week about how the federal government behaved against American citizens.” For some of us, the statement came across as a Claude Rains moment of being “shocked, shocked” that protesters are being silenced in D.C. She (and CNN) ignored the actions of her Chief of Police and her dismissal of objections of civil libertarians to Newsham’s appointment.  Now, that was truly shocking.

Here is the column

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“Trumped-Up”: Former Judge’s Filing Is An Example Of “Irregularity” In The Age Of Rage


Retired federal judge John Gleeson was recently appointed by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to argue against dismissal of the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and to advise him on whether the court should substitute its own charge of charge for Flynn for now claiming innocence.  I have been highly critical of Sullivan’s orders and particularly the importation of third parties to make arguments that neither party supports in a criminal case. Now Gleeson has filed a brief that confirms the worst fears that many of us had about his appointment.  Gleeson assails what he called  “a trumped-up accusation of government misconduct.” The ultimate position advocated in Gleeson’s arguments would be a nightmare for criminal defendants, criminal defense counsel and civil libertarians.  Indeed, as discussed below, Gleeson was previously reversed as a judge for usurping the authority of prosecutors.

Gleeson actually makes the Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” look like an ACLU lawyer. After all she just called for “Sentence First–Verdict Afterward”  Gleeson is dispensing with any need for verdict on perjury, just the sentence. However, since these arguments are viewed as inimical to the Trump Administration, many seem blind to the chilling implications.

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NoFundThem: Conservative Commentator’s Fundraising Blocked Over Floyd Criticism

500px-GoFundMe_logo.svgI previously wrote a column about the rising calls by Democratic leaders and activists for different forms of public and private censorship. Indeed, the recent extreme demands and controversy at the New York Times shows how speech controls have been a virtual article of faith for many.  Twitter’s actions against Trump tweets are another example of the inconsistent use of such controls.  Now GoFundMe has taken it upon itself to censor causes that it views as offensive in closing down a fundraiser by conservative political commentator Candace Owens in support of an Alabama cafe whose co-owner criticized the George Floyd protests.  The question again is not whether we agree with such sentiments but the free speech implications of these forms of private censorship.  Rather than respond to such controversial statements, critics today focus on silencing the speakers or barring their views or causes to be heard by others.  What is interesting is that, by abandoning neutrality, GoFundMe is now affirming that it does regulate content and will face demands for more such action. That could undermine the position of these companies against the loss of immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

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Revolution Redux? How A Movement For Reform Is Becoming A Platform For Radicalism

Anonymous_-_Prise_de_la_BastilleBelow is an updated version of my column in The Hill newspaper on how the discussion of reforms following the killing of George Floyd has been increasingly overtaken by the most radical elements in politics and commentary.  The atmosphere is strikingly similar for those familiar with history and specifically the course of the French Revolution. That image of reformists becoming reactionaries was particularly evident in New York Mayor Bill de Blasio being booed by a crowd calling for his resignation and the same response to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey when he refused to commit to defunding and dismantling the police department.  In Washington,  Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the square near the White House to be named “Black Lives Matter” Square with giant letters painted on the street.  BLM however denounced it as a meaningless stunt and activists added ‘Defund the Police.”  Bowser refused to answer multiple questions on whether she would remove the added words. To do so is to risk a scene like the ones in Minneapolis and New York.

As writers, editors, and politicians yield to extreme measures, they might want to consider the fate of those who sought to ride the radical wave of the French Revolution.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Revolution Redux? How A Movement For Reform Is Becoming A Platform For Radicalism”

“This Son of York”: Federal Prosecutors Demand To Speak To Prince Andrew In Epstein Investigation

IMAGE: Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine MaxwellIn a surprise move, the United States Attorneys Office in New York has invoked the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, or MLAT, to demand an interview with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in relation to the investigation of Jeffrey Epstein’s history of sexual abuse. While Prince Andrew pledged to cooperate in every way, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman insisted that he has not assisted in any way with the investigation.  The use of the MLAT to subpoena the testimony of a Royal family member is nothing short of breathtaking as a development. The assumption was that any real criminal inquiry died with Epstein. That is clearly not the case.

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