Some of us have been highly critical of the trend in media toward “echo-journalism” where cable networks tailor their coverage to reinforce and repeat the expectations of their viewers. Few hosts are willing to admit to the formula coverage, though there have been telling moments. None have been open than Lawrence O’Donnell on The Al Franken Podcast when he declared that MCNBC was completely over the need to present two sides of coverage on Trump because defenders of Trump are “liars” and “I don’t bring on a liar.” It is that simple. The other side is just lies so only our side needs to be reported.
Recently we discussed how decades of anti-free speech policies in Germany have reduced the expectations of citizens in that country to the level of an authoritarian regime. A survey, conducted by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach(and published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) found that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. Undeterred, leaders have called for greater limits on free speech during election periods — a concept that would normally be viewed as counterintuitive outside of the new European model. In addition, Germany just announced that it would expand anti-free speech laws even further to criminalize the burning of flags — an expression of free speech protected in this country.
There could be a curious constitutional challenge brewing after the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections committee voted to report the ERA to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday. That would be the 38th state to ratify but the vote ignores two glaring problems. First, the deadline for ratification passed 38 years ago and five states that approved the ERA have since rescinded their ratification.Continue reading “Virginia Moves To Ratify Equal Rights Amendment . . . 38 Years After Expiration”
There is a deeply disturbing ruling out of Mississippi where the state supreme court affirmed the sentence of Willie Nash for having a cellphone in the Newton County Jail. He received an absurd 12-year sentence. The decision not only shows how our criminal justice system continues to disproportionate sentencing but also how the Eighth Amendment has been effectively gutted as a tool to address such cases.Continue reading “Mississippi Man Sentenced To 12 Years For Having Cellphone In Jail”
I have repeatedly objected to the dubious diagnosis offered freely by Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee of President Trump, including recent statements that seemed to combine her political and professional views of the subject. As I discussed in a prior column on the demise of the Goldwater rule, these efforts to diagnose Trump from a distance raise highly disturbing ethical issues. Now Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz has reportedly complained to Yale University after Lee suggested that he, and Trump supporters, display a “shared psychosis” with the president. Dershowitz triggered commentary when, in defense of allegations that he had sex with underaged girls during his association with child molester Jeffrey Epstein, he insisted that he had a “perfect sex life.” (Dershowitz is being sued by a woman who said she was forced by Epstein to have sex with him. It is one of a number of lawsuits currently pending against Dershowitz who has always maintained his innocence). As shown in dozens of prior columns, I oppose efforts to get academics punished or fired at their institutions out of concern for free speech and academic freedom. However, I agree with Dershowitz that Lee’s weaponizing psychiatric evaluations in this political debate is inimical to her school and her profession.Continue reading “Dershowitz Complains To Yale Over Professor’s Criticism Of His Claims Of A “Perfect Sex Life””
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has triggered a wave of condemnations over the selection of David Kris, to oversee reforms of the FBI FISA process. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) presiding Judge James Boasberg, left, appointed Kris, a lawyer that the Washington Post describes as “highly controversial.
Critics have objected that Kris writes for Lawfare, a legal site widely criticized by conservative lawyers for its left-oriented, anti-Trump positions, as well as shows like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. That objection strikes me as attenuated and unfair. The more serious allegations however is that Kris was one of the most public advocates for rejecting allegations of FBI abuse. In a city where you can throw a stick and hit ten lawyers, FISC went to someone who insisted that allegations of abuse were nonsense and should be rejected. If the court was seeking to assure the public, it has added a new controversy for those who see a “deep state” response to reforms.
In what could be an important moment for women’s rights in Iran, the country’s only female Olympic medalist reportedly defected to the Netherlands while denouncing Iran for its “hypocrisy” and making a veiled reference to being required to wear a covering in order to compete. We have long discussed the courageous women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran who have fought against crushing oppression and discrimination. The defection of Kimia Alizadeh, 21, will highlight that struggle and allow her to speak freely in the West. The defection comes at a time of protests over the false statements made by the Iranian government over the downing of a passenger jet.Continue reading “Iran’s Only Female Olympic Medalist Defects”
The Library of Congress has always been my favorite building in Washington (though the Capitol building is a very close second). After decades of working on the Hill, I still find amazing historic rooms tucked away in these buildings. This week, I spoke on impeachment at the Library of Congress next to the Woodrow Wilson library. I had to take a couple pictures to share. It is an amazing room with a breathtaking view of the Capitol dome.Continue reading “Nerdgasm: Visiting The Woodrow Wilson Library Room”
An interesting thing occurred on Capitol Hill yesterday. A U.S. Senator demanded to be treated as an actual U.S. Senator. After the briefing by the Trump Administration on the “imminent” threat behind the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimanim, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee came out of the hearing irate at what he described as the “worst military briefing” he had ever witnessed. Lee is one of President Donald Trump’s most committed supporters and a hawk. However, he has a quaint notion of being part of an independent branch of government with independent obligations under federal law. Lee refused to simply rubber stamp the position of the White House and denounced the “briefing” as offering no real evidence and little beyond platitudes. Sen. Rand Paul joined Lee in criticizing the briefing as clearly insufficient. In response to this principled position, both have been accused of “empowering the enemy” by Sen. Lindsey Graham. Defending the authority and functions of Congress is precisely what the Framers demanded in our system of checks and balances.Continue reading ““It’s UnAmerican. It’s Unconstitutional”: Utah Senator Denounces The Iran Briefing As “Absolutely Insane””
In a long expected order, Arkansas Circuit Judge Holly Meyer has declared Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden, to be the “biological and legal father” of a child he fathered with former GW student, 29-year-old Lunden Alexis Roberts. Biden has long denied being the father and has refused to support the child. He has also refused to turn over information on his assets, part of discovery that Meyer referred to as “past due.” It was obviously not the only element past due for Biden with regard to this child.Continue reading ““Past Due”: Court Declares Hunter Biden The Father Of Child In Arkansas”
We recently discussed the shocking tweet from President Donald Trump that the United States might target cultural sites in retaliation of any response from Iran to our killing of an Iranian general. I suggested at the time that Trump may have been referring to legitimate target with dual cultural significance and strongly suggested a clarification. Well, he has now clarified and doubled down that he may target cultural sites — an act that is widely viewed as a war crime.Continue reading “Trump Doubles Down In Threatening To Attack Cultural Sites Despite International Criticism”
We often discuss how pollution is often discussed without addressing studies showing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year due to its health impacts. One of my greatest disagreements with the Trump Administration is its staunchly anti-environmental policies and its opposition to climate change reforms. Indeed, additional rollbacks on environmental protections are being pushed forward by the Administration. The connection between air pollution and death rates for lung cancer, stroke, asthma and other ailments is well established. Now a new study has linked it to the loss of bone density and strength.Continue reading “Study: Air Pollution Causes Loss In Bone Density”
We recently discussed the dismissal of the lawsuit by a woman who accused Dr. Pepper of false advertising for using the word “diet” after she failed to lose weight after 13 years of consumption. Now a canine version of the theory has been raised in New York where Shannon Walton is suing Blue Buffalo, a dog food company, claiming that it is misleading consumers about its dog food as “inspired by the diet of wolves.” Instead, she claims that dogs are wolfing down carbohydrates and that the closest her dog is getting to a real wolf is the picture on the package. She complains that her Tucker, a seven-year-old a Labrador-beagle mix, is diabetic and obese due to the high level of carbohydrates in the food. Warning graphic picture below.Continue reading “A Cereal In Wolf’s Clothing? New York Woman Sues Blue Buffalo Over “Inspired By Wolves” Claim and Content in Dog Food”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
At the end of a rocky canyon, a friend and I found ourselves nearly alone among the new year’s eve lights–a Bavarian themed town and a quiet version of St. Sylvester’s Day. Seemed like a good time for a few photographs.Continue reading “Sylvester Alone: New Year’s Eve Lights”