We have already seen a good showing for Halloween this year at our house. We have set up a table to allow for more distance and caution. However, the kids are carrying on with the holiday undeterred! A testament to the power of raw courage and raw sugar.
I recently wrote about how the Barrett confirmation hearing is proof that Benjamin Franklin was right when he wrote that “it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.” Now that analogy is becoming reality as Democrats plan to leave actual empty seats in today’s hearing to vote on the nomination. It is all an effort to convince Democrats voters that the senators are really angry over the nomination and fighting like the dickens to stop it. It is, of course, pure theater with no real impact on the nomination but voters seem to demand little more from politicians today than visceral distractions.
We have been discussing how both parties in Washington have been spending wildly for years in pushing the country to unprecedented and crippling debt levels. We recently passed the “red line” of 106 percent of our GDP. The roughly $27 trillion debt has not however deterred members who continue to push proposals to tack on trillions. That was the case yesterday when Sen. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren are calling on President Trump to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt next year. Some 43 million Americans hold more than $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. Such proposals may have merit but my concern is over the lack of any plan on dealing with the debt as well as the fact that this massive increase would be done by executive order.
I had to share this story. Jimmy MacDonald is a former addict who has been sober for seven years. He found himself floating away without a paddle in an overturned kayak. He prayed to God for rescue and suddenly saw in disbelief a floating Tiki bar with Catholic priests coming to his aid. If that does not prove the existence of God, I cannot imagine what you are waiting for.
Republicans from Fox’s Brit Hume to GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger(Ill.) have rushed to the defense Fox New reporter Jennifer Griffin, who was attacked by President Donald Trump for simply confirming aspects of the recent explosive story in The Atlantic. My column this weekend discussed the article alleging that Trump has spoken in disparaging terms of our veterans and war dead. Trump called for Griffin to be fired despite other news organizations also reporting that Trump has referred to veterans as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump seemed most upset by the fact that Griffin was saying that she “confirmed” the story when in fact she confirmed comments allegedly made about Vietnam veterans, not the specific alleged comment on war dead in France from World War I. That is a valid point, though likely lost on most citizens who correctly view such references to veterans of any war as vile and disgraceful. Moreover, it is outrageous for a president to call for a respected reporter to be fired for doing her job. Yet, what is most striking is how, again, Trump’s attacks only magnify the attention and damage of the story.
We have been discussing the notable reliance on federal as opposed to state charges to prosecute crimes during the recent protests. The shifting of these cases into the federal system is being done with the support of local police. The result can be enhanced sentencing as well as political cover. The latest example is Jacob D. Little, 24, who allegedly stole a high-powered rifle from a patrol car during a riot in Seattle.
In the criminal justice system, most of us have seen the use of “spit hoods” when a suspect or defendant spits at officers or others. During the pandemic, such behavior is viewed as particularly dangerous. However, for years, the hoods have been associated with breathing and medical issues. The death of Daniel Prude in Rochester is spotlighting this controversy after a shocking video of a group of officers laughing as Prude, who was running nude in the area, complained about his breathing. He died on March 30 after being taken off life support.
Below is my column on the Steven Bannon case that ran in the Washington Times. Notably, one of the defendants indicted with Bannon is a Andrew Badolato, a person who has repeatedly assisted the government in prior cases. While Badolato has pleaded not guilty and has a long association with Bannon, his history could raise a serious threat for defense counsel that he might cut a deal with prosecutors. In a case of this kind, a cooperating witness confirming an intent to hide transactions would be devastating to the defense. A May 24, 2021 trial date has been set though U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres called that date “optimistic.” (Note: postings this week may be limited due to my duties in a criminal defense case).
There is a controversy brewing at Skidmore College where students have demanded the “immediate firing” of three faculty members who were spotted at a “Back The Blue” pro-police rally. It is the latest expression of intolerance for opposing views in higher education.
We have previously discussed how some media organizations told their journalists not to call violence after the death of George Floyd “riots,” including the recently much mocked headline of CNN calling the looting and violence in Kenosha “fiery but mostly peaceful.” Now, Chris Cillizza, an editor-at-large for CNN, is under fire for criticizing President Donald Trump for labeling the violence in places like Kenoska as “riots.” Critics have noted that the picture posted by Cillizza with his tweet shows a building engulfed in flames. Lawyers notoriously parse terms in ways that often deny their obvious meaning but this effort by some in the media would make a Philadelphia lawyer blush.
Auburn Lecturer Jesse Goldberg has triggered a firestorm over social media posting containing anti-police sentiments and other controversial comments. The recently hired academic drew critics when, after his hire, he would not use the school’s battle cry of “War Eagle” because of the inclusion of “war.” That was however mild in comparison to later postings targeting police or declaring “Wait til M-Fers find out I’m queer and teach in goddamn heels too. They gonna get madder.” As will come as little surprise to people on this blog, I do not believe that the university should punish Goldberg for his political and social expressions outside of school. We recently discussed such protections for a Texas A&M professor who posted anti-Trump comments.
Yesterday, we discussed the personal attacks against speakers at the Republican National Convention by CNN analysts, including a false attack on former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The concern is the increasingly personal attacks against anyone who seems to counter a narrative in the media. That adherence of a story line was evident in a much ridiculed graphic from last night where CNN national correspondent’s Omar Jimenez was reporting live from Kenosha, Wis. with a raging fire in the background over a chyron reading, “FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING.” Not to get “all mavericky,” but claiming these protests are “fiery [but] peaceful” seems a tad oxymoronic.