Tag Archives: US Constitution

Birtherism falls along racial lines

Now that some of us have raised the “racism” issue as it concerns Donald Trump’s pointed — and quite specific — criticism of African-American political foes, I want to revisit the issue of “birtherism.”

Trump made a lot of noise years ago about whether Barack Obama was qualified to run for president. He based his questions about the lie that Obama was born in Kenya. Therefore, he couldn’t run for president because, according to the U.S. Constitution, Obama wasn’t a “natural-born” citizen of America.

Obama, of course, was born in Hawaii in 1961. He said so at the outset. He finally produced a birth certificate to prove it. That wasn’t good enough for Trump and many others.

Why did Trump and others continue to foment the lie?

Uhh, let me see. Oh, I think it’s race. Obama’s father was a Kenyan. His mother was from Kansas. Dad was black; Mom was white. Get it?

Now, for the other noted “birther” case. It involves U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who ran against Trump for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2016.

Cruz actually was born outside the United States. He was born in Canada. His father is Cuban. His mother is an American.

Sen. Cruz was able to quell the questions with a simple — and generally accepted — interpretation of the Constitution. Since his mother is a U.S. citizen, Baby Ted became a U.S. citizen immediately upon his birth. Therefore, he qualifies as a “natural-born” citizen simply because of his mother’s citizenship.

Hey, that same logic works for the former president, too. His mother was a U.S. citizen, making him an American the moment he came into this wold. Except that wouldn’t fly in the minds of his critics … and that includes the president of the United States.

And all of that presumes he was born somewhere other than the United States! He was born in the U.S.A., but the questions continue to linger even to this day among most Americans who consider themselves to be Republicans.

Is race a factor? Hmm. I believe it is.

Alex Jones: no free-speech martyr

Alex Jones has been kicked off some social media platforms.

I have to offer a huge round of applause for those platforms that have seen fit to abide by the standards they set for those who use them. Jones didn’t do that. He’s gone at least from those particular venues.

Who is this clown? He’s a talk-show blowhard and noted conspiracy theorist. His infamy grew exponentially when he alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. — where 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers were gunned down in 2012 — was a “hoax.” He said the grieving parents were actors brought in by anti-gun activists to carry the cudgel for disarming the American public.

He is a monstrous purveyor of hate speech.

Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube all have banned Jones from using their platforms to spew his garbage.

Jones’s response has been predictable. He says the First Amendment guarantees him the right to speak his mind. No matter how vile his thoughts might be.

Hold on, buster.

This argument reminds me of discussions I had throughout my journalism career with individuals who would submit letters or other commentary that I found unsuitable for publication on the opinion pages I edited.

They would say, “But what about free speech?” My response was the same. “You are free to purchase and run your own newspaper and then you are free to publish whatever you want. We have rules and standards and your submission falls short of them.”

So it is with Alex Jones’s hate speech. The social media platforms are within their own constitutional rights to set standards that those who use them must follow. Jones crossed many lines with his hideous pronouncements.

He’s still able to spew his filth. The U.S. Constitution allows it. He simply is no longer able to do so using the venues whose owners and managers have done what they should have done long ago.

They cut him off.

Dangerous media intimidation continues

I am running out of words to describe my outrage at the behavior of Donald J. Trump’s voter bloc and its attitude toward the media that are doing their job.

It manifested itself yet again this week at a Florida political rally. The president fired ’em up at the rally while campaigning for a Republican candidate for governor.

Then came the reaction from many in the crowd toward media outlets covering the event. The shouted obscenities, made obscene gestures, they issued veiled threats at reporters. CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta was targeted specifically by the crowd, whose members consider CNN to be purveyors of so-called “fake news.”

I want to back up for just a moment.

There hasn’t been a president of the United States in the history of the republic who hasn’t had issues with the media. They don’t like the media’s tough questions on issues of the day. They really dislike it when the media starts probing into controversial matters. Some examples? How about Iran-Contra, or the Lewinsky matter, or Watergate, or the “fast and furious” scandal?

None of the presidents questioned about those matters — Republican or Democrat — ever called the media “the enemy of the people.” Nor did they egg on their supporters when they would shout at media representatives. They didn’t enable this kind of boorishness.

Until now.

The 45th president cheers them on, all the while proclaiming his phony belief in a “free press” and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

We are witnessing a fundamental attack, launched by the head of state, on an institution that is protected specifically by the First Amendment.

It is un-American and unpatriotic in the extreme.

First Amendment: Why protect the ‘free press’?

Jonathan Capehart writes a column for the Washington Post, which means he’s a dedicated journalist. He also makes a compelling point: It is that the U.S. Constitution protects only one profession from government oppression, intimidation or coercion. It’s a “free press,” Capehart noted today.

Why is that?

Well, it’s because the founders knew something that has been lost on one of their political descendants, the 45th president of the United States. They knew that a free press was an essential element of ensuring that those who run a democratic republic must be held accountable for their actions.

Yet the current president refers to the press as purveyors of “fake news,” and calls them the “enemy of the people.”

How utterly and categorically disgraceful. Donald J. Trump’s abject ignorance of government and the role that a “free press” plays in ensuring that government does the right thing is breathtaking in its scope.

Yet he continues his rampage. He continues to spread lies about the media. He bellows his demagogic rhetoric to the cheers, hoots and hollering in front of crowds that comprise those who make up his political base.

The president needs to understand — even though I know that he won’t — that the founders had it right when they guaranteed a “free press” in the very First Amendment to our Constitution.

Yes, the amendment also covers the right to worship as we please and to protest government policies, to assemble peaceably and to speak freely without fear of retribution.

I need to re-state it once again: the media are the only private industry covered in any of the 27 amendments to the Constitution. Why do you suppose that’s the case? Because the founders knew at the very beginning that the press must remain free of government interference or intimidation.

Listen up, Mr. President.

‘Very unpatriotic’ media? Really, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump fired off a series of tweets in which he tears into the media, the so-called “enemy of the people.”

They say in part:

When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk! Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news … accurately. 90% of media coverage of my Administration is negative, despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving, it’s no surprise that confidence in the media is at an all time low! I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters …”

I want to focus briefly on the “very unpatriotic” label he has hung on the media.

It is quite “patriotic,” actually, for the media to report fully, critically and analytically about the government. For the president, moreover, to suggest that the media doing their job jeopardizes the lives and safety of Americans is an absolutely insane — not to mention idiotic — assertion.

The jeopardy stems from the president’s incessant attack on a “free press” that constitutes bullying and coercion in the extreme of the only private business offered specific protection from government interference in the U.S. Constitution.

The only “enemy of the people” I can find in this context occupies the chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office. Yes, I know that millions of Americans bristle at the criticism launched at Trump. Millions of other Americans, however, remain committed to understanding what the government is doing to us — or for us.

Those Americans depend on an unfettered and patriotic “free press” to tell them.

White House sinks to new level of juvenile petulance

A reporter for CNN has found out she has friends.

Her colleagues are standing with her in the wake of a petulant White House decision to bar her from a press event in the Rose Garden.

What got Kaitlin Collins in trouble with the White House? She asked some tough questions. That’s it, man! She was doing her job.

Well, the White House banishment of her hasn’t gone over well. Get a load of this statement from Fox News, the favorite cable network of Donald John Trump Sr: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press” Fox President Jay Wallace says in statement.

A “free and unfettered press” needs “full access” to the people in power. Yep, they do. Jay Wallace’s defense of Collins is spot on.

Donald Trump is demonstrating time and again that he possesses the thinnest skin in a president since, oh, Richard M. Nixon. That goes back more than four decades. President Nixon was known to exact revenge against media members, particularly the Washington Post, which led the journalistic investigation into that “third-rate burglary” known as Watergate.

This president, No. 45, is setting a new standard for presidential petulance.

As The Hill reported: “Wannabe tyrant Donald Trump is banning reporters he doesn’t like from official press events,” McGovern tweeted. “Journalists like [CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins] ask questions not just for their news outlet, but on behalf of all Americans.”

“Shutting them out is a slap in the face to our democracy,” he added.

Except that the president shows us damn near daily that he is ignorant of the value that a free press brings to a free society.

Fox News: state media outfit?

What’s up with this?

Donald J. Trump reportedly became angry with staffers aboard Air Force One because they were watching CNN on the presidential jet. Why, he insists on them watching Fox News, the president’s news/commentary network of choice.

He continues to lambaste media outlets that report goings on in the manner that they should, with facts and critical analysis. His favorite network, Fox, continues to slobber all over the president’s shoes (figuratively, of course) while offering nothing but “positive” coverage of his every statement and deed.

Anything negative is deemed “fake news.” Amazing, given that the president is the godfather of “fake news,” as he promoted the lie that Barack Obama was not constitutionally qualified to run for president of the United States. It was that “birther” thing, remember?

So, are we to presume that the president is creating a form of de facto state media?

I believe the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says the government must not interfere in any fashion with a “free press” doing its job.

Trump’s thin skin results in petty punishment

Y’all remember the First Amendment. Among the liberties it guarantees is the right to protest federal government policies.

Several individuals who once held high-profile, sensitive positions in our national security network have been critical of the current president of the United States.

So, what does Donald J. Trump do? He decides he might revoke their high-level security clearances. First Amendment? Who needs it?

The individuals I refer to are: former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden; former director of national intelligence James Clapper (pictured); former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe; former national security adviser and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice; and former FBI director James Comey.

They all have spoken critically of the president. Trump’s reaction is a study in narcissistic petulance.

It’s also a symptom of someone who appears to relish the role of authoritarian. A president of the United States ought to know what the First Amendment allows and what it protects. He ought to understand that even those who once held top-tier national security posts were entitled to speak their minds if they see fit.

Bear in mind also that no one of the people mentioned in this punitive proposal has said a single thing in public that jeopardizes our national security. They all have been given this clearance — as did their predecessors — as a way to strengthen our national security, giving the current national security team a resource it can use for advice and counsel. The president, thus, seeks to weaken our national security system.

They only element these individuals have put in jeopardy has been the president’s standing among Americans who do not comprise his die-hard base. Donald Trump will have none of that.

Mr. POTUS, we must ‘have judges’

Donald J. Trump wants to change U.S. immigration policy by diminishing the role of — get a load of this — the federal judiciary.

Trump wants to toss all illegal immigrants out of the country without the benefit of having their cases heard by judges.

The president of the United States today yet again took dead aim at our immigration policy. He called it the worst policy “in the history of the world.” He then said something quite remarkable in a brief give-and-take with reporters gathered at the White House.

Trump noted that when immigrants cross our border, “they have judges.” Yes, judges. These are the men and women who take an oath to administer the law in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, to ensure that federal law doesn’t violate the Constitution.

Federal immigration law — indeed, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution — grants “any person” the right to “due process” and “equal protection” under the law. It doesn’t limit those guarantees to U.S. citizens, let alone to those who come here legally from another nation.

The president’s desire to toss out the Constitution, to ignore existing federal statutes crosses the line into a desire to create an autocracy. He wants to throw into the crapper a fundamental tenet that the nation’s founders insisted on when they created this government. That tenet established a judicial system that is ostensibly free of political pressure and coercion.

Yes, we need more federal judges — not fewer of them — to deal specifically with this issue of immigration. Yet the president now disparages the role these judges play? He disrespects their vital contribution to the administering of justice?

Reprehensible.

Yep, elections do have serious consequences

Oh, brother. Is there any more proof needed about the impact of presidential elections than the decision today handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The high court ruled 5-4 today to uphold Donald J. Trump’s travel ban involving countries from a handful of mostly Muslim countries.

The conservative majority voted with the president; the liberal minority voted against him.

There you have it. Trump’s travel ban will stand. He will crow about it. He’ll proclaim that the court is a body comprising men of wisdom; bear in mind that the three women who sit on the court today voted against the travel ban. Had the decision gone the other way, he would declare the court to be “too political,” he would chastise the justices’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (if you can believe it).

The court decision today has reaffirmed the president’s decision to discriminate against people based on their religious faith. Nice.

The partisan vote on the court today also has brought a smile to another leading politician: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose obstructionism in the final year of the Barack Obama presidency denied Trump’s predecessor the right to fill a seat created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Constitution gives the president the right to nominate judges; it also grants the Senate the right to “advise and consent” on those nominations. The Senate majority leader decided to obstruct the president’s ability to do his job.

President Obama nominated a solid moderate, Merrick Garland, to succeed Scalia. McConnell put the kibosh on it, declaring almost immediately after Scalia’s death that the president would not be able to fill the seat. McConnell would block it. And he did.

A new president was elected and it turned out to be Donald Trump, who then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was approved narrowly by the Senate. Gorsuch proved to be the deciding vote in today’s ruling that upholds the Trump travel ban.

Do elections have consequences? You bet they do.

Frightening, yes? In my humble view — given the stakes involved at the Supreme Court — most assuredly.