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Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Fresh Hell? All the news to give you fits on October 12, 2017

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Because we can only have one president at a time.

MOTUS got up early today to denounce Puerto Rico for 125 years of colonial neglect by the United States and doing nothing to divert hurricanes:

Having denounced PR again for being in debt, the *resident has an omnibus hurricane bill before Congress that offers the Commonwealth more aid in the form of a $5 billion loan.


The *resident gave an interview to Sean Hannity last night. The assertion that somehow private stock market gains reduces the public debt went unchallenged:


Today is the 125th anniversary of a patriotic fetish-object to conservatives. The Writer's Alamanac explains how it has gone from being the aspirational paean of an American socialist to a tool of the Cold War:

It was on this day in 1892 that the Pledge of Allegiance was recited en masse for the first time, by more than 2 million students. It had been written just a month earlier by a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy, who published it in Youth's Companion and distributed it across the country. It was recited on this day to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the Americas. It was slightly shorter in its 1892 version: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands — one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

After that, it got revised twice, and both revisions made the Pledge wordier. The first was in 1923, when it was changed from "my flag" to "the flag of the United States of America." This change was made to ensure that immigrants were pledging to the American flag and not the flags of their home countries. The second change was to add the words "under God." A few determined preachers worked for years to get it changed, but it wasn't until 1954 that it was amended. President Eisenhower attended a sermon by the Reverend George Docherty, who said: "Apart from the mention of the phrase, 'the United States of America,' this could be a pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow with equal solemnity." Eisenhower was convinced and within a few months the Pledge was amended to include "under God" as a way to distinguish this country from the Soviet Union.


To fight Trump as Trump fought would have required a Jeb Bush or John Kasich or Marco Rubio to embarrass their mothers, spouses, and kids, to sully their souls and their respectability. 
Eminem is not similarly constrained.


For all his talk about killing off NBC lately, his complaints that the First Amendment letting people just write whatever they want ("disgusting"), and his campaign promise to sue his sex abuse accusers and their enablers in the fake media, Mr Trump has failed his first test:

On Oct. 12, 2016, The New York Times published a story entitled, "Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately."

A year later, despite a threat from his attorney that Trump would have "no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies," Trump hasn't sued. That's significant because Wednesday, the statute of limitations expires on a libel claim brought in New York over the publication's groping story. In theory, Trump could try to get around the deadline by filing a complaint in a different state, but with judges often being strict about jurisdiction — Trump can consult his wife about this subject — it can be said with near certainty that Trump won't be suing The New York Times over that infamous article.

A threat of legal action that doesn't actually lead to a court filing falls under a category of speech known as bluster. Some argue that news publications shouldn't cover intimidation lest it encourage bullying. For example, in reaction to The Hollywood Reporter's article last week stating Harvey Weinstein's attorney was "preparing" a lawsuit against The New York Times over its latest story about a powerful figure behaving inappropriately toward women, one reporter at The Wall Street Journal tweeted that his paper had a policy against covering threats until the actual lawsuit came. We're more lenient here (while having stricter standards in other areas of legal coverage), but also think that follow-up is important. 

Why is the empty retraction demand (still available on Trump's website) from attorney Marc Kasowitz significant?

For starters, Trump made libel reform an actual promise to those who supported his presidential candidacy. As the leader of the executive branch of the federal government, however, Trump is fairly limited in what he can do, as defamation claims are largely governed by state law. He can nominate federal judges, who sometimes preside over these cases or are asked to settle constitutional issues. So far, with appointments like Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — who has shown a deference to the First Amendment — Trump hasn't made any big swings toward disrupting the status quo as it relates to defamation law. Thus, his failure to go after The New York Times amounts to a missed opportunity. What's more, fighting as a defendant in defamation cases, Trump has learned to appreciate certain First Amendment protections. Or at least, his lawyers have (here and here).

Next, while some may respond that Trump now has better things to do than litigate a claim against The New York Times, hardly a day goes by when Trump isn't tweeting about "fake news." He's used his bully pulpit to delegitimize the mainstream press. He's obviously obsessed with unflattering information about himself and his administration, yet isn't willing to take an obvious action that would become symbolic of his willingness to actually fight with more than words.

Which leads us back to the issue of bluster.


Headline of the Day (from Lifehacker, no less):

How To Play With Testicles


Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday directing an overhaul of major federal regulations that would encourage the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don't have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. They'd attract younger and healthier people — leaving older and sicker ones in the Obamacare markets facing higher and higher costs.


Back to killing off NBC:


Are you plagued by social media gits who pounce on any mention of Harvey Weinstein and shriek, "WhataboutBill?"

Share this link with them. Congratulate them on winning their Moral Troll Certificates.


Shortly, the new lead out of Hollywood will be that there's a gay mafia of highly-placed and grabby predators.


Alex Jones, the conspiracy theory architect behind Infowars, asked his listeners to consider giving money to his operation rather than donating to large megachurches because he uses the money to fight the globalist world order instead of spending it on prostitutes, helicopters and cocaine.


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