Christmas Past, Present, and Future

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For centuries Christmastime in America was widely recognized as a special season of joy, filled with festive celebrations, heartfelt gift-giving, and, of course, transcendent music that conveyed the faith of so many of our nation’s people.

Unfortunately, what has transpired over the last few decades is a rise of suppression of Christian expression, which has become most evident during the time leading up to this brightest of holidays.

In the not-so-distant past, some institutions of higher learning have seen fit to ban from college campuses Christmas decorations, Christmas gifts, Christmas trees, and even the word “Christmas” itself, according to Campus Reform.

Some vexing seasonal disharmony recently arrived courtesy of the Huffington Post. The publication featured a piece that encouraged parents to prevent their children from saying “Merry Christmas” and to replace the phrase instead with “Happy Holidays.”

Other signs of the country’s divide and the tangential erosion of attitudes toward Christian expression can be found in the results of a telephone poll. The poll, which was conducted in English and Spanish by the Public Religion Research Institute and took place from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11, 2016, with 1,004 adults participating, found that Democrats oppose the use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” more than 2-1 over Republicans.

Something that happened recently in Midlothian, Virginia, though, is particularly emblematic of the situation in which Christ Child well-wishers find themselves. The Robious Middle School banned any carols that make mention of the reason for the season for Christian believers, i.e., Jesus.

School administrators reportedly said that the decision had been made to “avoid singing anything of a direct sacred nature” in order to be “more sensitive to the increasing diverse population at the school.”

The problem with the school’s approach appears to center upon the word “sacred.” The end result at Robious Middle School, and at so many other similar public institutions and venues, is that concerts and festivities will be required to celebrate the season without any mention or even a veiled reference to the birth event of the principal character for whom, according to Gallup, 74 percent of the country’s population joyfully awaits.

Despite public disinformation over the subject, public schools are not legally required to remove the name of Christ from Christmas pageants, concerts, and the like. Also, Christmas carols that use his name are not necessarily considered “sacred,” as the Robious Middle School has characterized them. Christmas is part of the cultural and religious heritage of our country, and the national holiday’s songbook is allowed to be presented as such.

The American culture at large has for years simply allowed the secular and the spiritual to peacefully reside, especially within the music realm, through a seamless tapestry of secular and religious beliefs. A beautiful tapestry, when you think of it, which reflects true diversity and authentic tolerance, encompassing respect and understanding of our fellow neighbors’ identities and belief systems.

Perhaps this year Christmas Future could become Christmas Past once again, at least in celebration and song.

Trump Critics Complain over Troops at the Border

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Since the Trump administration authorized the military to use force along the US-Mexico border, many are raising legal challenges to the president’s border policy by invoking a 19th century law, the Posse Comitatus Act, that generally prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement functions unless specifically authorized by the Constitution or Congress.

According to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, over 5,000 active duty troops are now engaged in supporting missions along the border in Texas, Arizona, and California.

The actions authorized by the White House are those the Secretary of Defense “determines are reasonably necessary” including “a show or use of force, crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search.” The military has also been given the option to use lethal force, if conditions make it necessary to do so.

It is therefore not surprising that the same media panelists who routinely attack President Trump are ranting about the president violating the Posse Comitatus Act, which stops U.S. military from involvement in most civilian law enforcement roles.

Secretary Mattis stressed the need to keep the military away from civilian law enforcement roles.

“We are not doing law enforcement,” Mattis told the press. “We do not have arrest authority.”

Mattis indicated that, because National Guard troops are also present at the border, the governors of affiliated states could give them arrest authority.

“We’ll decide if it’s appropriate for the military, and at that point, things like Posse Comitatus obviously are in play,” Mattis said. “We’ll stay in strict accordance with the law.”

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was signed into law by President Rutherford B. Hayes on June 18, 1878. It was passed as an amendment to an army appropriation bill following the end of Reconstruction and was subsequently amended in 1956 and 1981.

The Constitution grants the president the power to utilize the armed forces to defend the nation’s territory, as well as to use the military to support civil authorities in preserving the peace.

The Posse Comitatus Act limits but does not eliminate the power of the president to declare “martial law” when local law enforcement and court systems cannot properly function. In such cases, all civilian police powers are assumed by the military. The president must also be able to deploy the military to counter insurrections, rebellions, or invasions.

In addition to the exceptions to Posse Comitatus, which allow the military to support civilian authorities in instances such as national disasters or terrorist acts, a federal law, Title 10, Chapter 13 of the U.S. code, is particularly pertinent.

When the president determines that unlawful “obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings,” the president has the power to “use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

Thousands of foreign nationals intend to engage in an unlawful incursion of U.S. territory, and some of them have already demonstrated a willingness to resort to violence in disregard of the laws of Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said that as many as 500 criminals and gang members are within the groups heading towards the border. The territorial protection of the nation gives the president the authority to act as commander-in-chief in the case at hand.

Also contained in Chapter 13 is additional power of the president to use the armed forces. The language further states that the president “shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy” as long as the insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy “so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection…”

If President Trump has reasonable grounds to believe that the thousands of foreign nationals who reportedly intend to “rush the border” would overwhelm the resources of the border states, and moreover pose a security threat to the border patrol, he is empowered to “take such measures as he considers necessary.”

In the executed directive that granted military authority, Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly wrote that “credible evidence and intelligence” indicated that the thousands of foreign nationals, many of whom are now in Tijuana, Mexico, “may prompt incidents of violence and disorder” that could threaten border officials.

Once again the nation may witness the filing of lawsuits with pre-selected liberal federal district court judges, seeking to have the power of the commander-in-chief curtailed.

However, as has also been seen before, it is highly likely that the president’s power to use the military to protect the nation’s citizens, the nation’s territory, and the nation’s sovereignty will be held to be lawful.

Megyn Kelly’s Legal Battle Ensnares NBC News Chair Andy Lack

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It looks like Megyn Kelly is playing hardball with the Peacock network.

Her television show “Megyn Kelly Today” was summarily canceled a short two days after a controversial episode of the show aired on NBC.

The episode in question contained an anecdote told by Kelly, which many found offensive and consequently set the social media ablaze.

“What is racist?” Kelly asked a panel. “You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface … That was OK when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing like a character.”

The social media backlash that ensued caused Kelly to be tried and convicted on the Internet of racism.

NBC personality Al Roker made it a point to weigh-in against the former Fox News anchor, saying, “The fact is while she [Kelly] apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country.”

Possibly believing that she could make things right, at the opening of the subsequent show Kelly offered an emotional apology and received a standing ovation from the in-studio audience. In addition to the public apology, she sent a contrite letter to her colleagues.

The apology and letter were essentially ignored by NBC News brass. NBC News Chairman Andy Lack slammed Kelly’s on-air comments during a town hall event that he held for news division staff.

Various sources told several media outlets that discussions about ending Kelly’s show had taken place prior to the “blackface” remarks. Some of these sources told US Weekly that NBC management had been looking for an opportune excuse to get rid of Kelly, due to her aggressive coverage of the #MeToo movement that included segments dealing with NBC scandals.

Kelly had covered Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw’s alleged sexual misconduct, giving NBC executives, which included Lack, a motive to want her time at the network to end.

A Lauer accuser, Addie Zinone, appeared as a guest on Kelly’s show. With regard to Brokaw, Kelly was not counted among the women who had pledged to support him after Variety and the Washington Post released reports of his alleged sexual harassment of former NBC and Fox News correspondent Linda Vester. Kelly was also vocal in her call for an independent legal investigation of Lack himself, regarding the alleged spiking of Ronan Farrow’s coverage of Harvey Weinstein.

Kelly has now signaled that she will fully engage in a legal battle with NBC as she negotiates an exit from her contract. Presently, she has left Creative Artists Agency because of a potential conflict, since the agency also represents NBC News President Noah Oppenheim. She has also hired experienced entertainment business trial lawyer Bryan Freedman, one of Hollywood’s top talent-side litigators.

Freedman shrewdly requested that Farrow sit in on the NBC meeting concerning Kelly’s departure. Kelly’s attorney is undoubtedly aware of the fact that Lack’s news division has been under scrutiny for refusing to air Farrow’s reporting on Hollywood producer Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.

Kelly’s negotiating leverage regarding her exit package appears to be enhanced since Lack, who was a major player in Kelly’s firing, is now on the hot seat.

Unfortunately for the chairman and his network, Lack has had a series of problems that have amassed under his leadership, including the following:

-During Lack’s tenure, Farrow left NBC News in the midst of his investigation of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. The journalist claimed he “was being blocked from further reporting.”

-Lack oversaw the scandal over MSNBC personality Joy Reid’s discredited claim that before she became well known, hackers had planted homophobic slurs on her blog.

-Lack was in charge when NBC News waited almost a month before it finally revealed evidence that discredited allegations made by lawyer Michael Avenatti’s client Julie Swetnick against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

NBC News knew that a witness, who Avenatti claimed had corroborated Swetnick’s allegations, had accused him of “twisting” her words and in essence recanted her testimony. The network has not put this particular scandal behind it, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has referred both Avenatti and Swetnick to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation relating to the issuing of false statements to the Committee.

-Perhaps most importantly, Lack is the executive who is responsible for negotiating Kelly’s 3-year $69 million contract.

Crowdfunding and the Hidden Digital Danger

Christine Blasey Ford listens to her attorney Michael Bromwich while testifying the Senate Judiciary Committee with in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington

In a September 2018 appearance on “CBS This Morning,” member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) opined that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had “nothing to gain” in stepping forward with allegations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

A few days later in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stated in the form of a question to the host a similar opinion.

“What in the h*** did she have to gain by doing this?” Durbin queried.

History suggests that there are a host of significant gains that may indeed be awaiting Ford. One has already surfaced via a digital platform. It arrived in the form of “crowdfunding,” i.e., the practice of financing a venture or cause by raising money from a large number of people utilizing specialized websites on the Internet.

Two crowdfunding accounts on the GoFundMe website, which were made on behalf of Ford, have raised approximately $740,000. For reasons unknown, at present the two GoFundMe accounts are no longer accepting donations.

The first GoFundMe account, labeled “Dr. Blasey’s security costs,” raised $210,000 in ten days. The GoFundMe campaign was created by a third party, a Georgetown law professor named Heidi Feldman, indicating that it was established “on behalf of the Ford family.” The campaign exceeded its initial goal of $175,000.

The account urged that donations be sent because of the following: “Due to death threats, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (who uses ‘Dr. Blasey’ professionally) and her family have had to leave their residence and arrange for private security.”

Feldman assured donors that she would “make arrangements to transfer funds to Dr. Blasey.”

The second GoFundMe account, labeled “Help Christine Blasey Ford,” was set up by “Team Christine Blasey Ford.” With an initial goal of $150,000, it raised approximately $530,000 in ten days. The GoFundMe description read, “The money raised from this campaign is going directly to the Ford Family.”

The subject of Ford’s crowdfunding came up during the Senate Judicial Committee hearing on Judge Kavanaugh, when Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell questioned Ford about her polygraph and legal fees.

“I’m aware that there’s been several GoFundMe sites that I haven’t had a chance to figure out how to manage those, because I’ve never had one done for me,” Ford stated.

After Mitchell asked for clarification, Ford responded, “GoFundMe sites that have raised money, primarily for our security detail. So I’m not even quite sure how to collect that money or — and how to distribute it yet. I haven’t been able to focus on that.”

Interestingly, after Ford’s mere mention at the hearing of the GoFundMe sites, more than $200,000 in donations flowed in to the “Help Christine Blasey Ford” campaign, which was, according to the New York Times, “more money than it had gained in the past eight days.”

During the questioning regarding funds and fees, Michael Bromwich, one of Ford’s lawyers, interrupted the process and said, “I can help you with that. Both her co-counsel are doing this pro bono. We are not being paid and we have no expectation of being paid.”

Bromwich represented Andrew McCabe and reportedly assisted the former FBI official in using crowdfunding to pay for legal fees.

Soon after McCabe was fired from the FBI for making false statements to investigators about leaking information to the media, a GoFundMe page, titled “Friends of Andrew McCabe,” appeared on the site. In less than one month, approximately $538,000 was raised to help cover McCabe’s legal fees.

Bromwich’s K-Street firm, The Bromwich Group, set up the GoFundMe account. Bromwich served as Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under former President Barak Obama. Prior to this position, he served as Inspector General of the Department of Justice under former President Bill Clinton.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley recently expressed concern that crowdfunding may be being used in a manner that enables legal testimony to be purchased.

“You can buy a witness effectively by funding them as long as they’re saying the type of thing that you want them to say,” Turley cautioned.

The notion that money could potentially be used to purchase testimony from favorable witnesses poses a threat to a functioning legal system and the fundamental precepts of due process.

In the end, it is not merely about what an individual has to gain, but rather what our country and her people have to lose.

John Kerry’s Telling Remarks

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John Kerry appeared on a recent cable broadcast of “Real Time with Bill Maher” to promote a book, increase his possible presidential profile, and deliver a Left Coast attack on the current sitting president.

The segment did not go as swimmingly as Kerry likely intended. In what appeared to be a pre-written attempt at humor, he told Maher, “He [President Donald Trump] is the first president that I know of who spends more time reading his Twitter ‘likes’ than his briefing books or the Constitution of the United States.”

The former secretary of state-turned-comic received the usual applause from the left-leaning audience, but few laughs. He went on to acknowledge that he has been engaged in what many government officials and private citizens as well view as rogue diplomacy.

In what appears to have been an effort to revive the now-defunct Iran nuclear deal, the probable presidential aspirant revealed that behind-the-scenes he has been in talks with a high-ranking representative of Iran.

Prior to the “Real Time” venue, in a separate media appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Kerry had already admitted that he had met several times with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, and that the talks had taken place without the approval of the Trump administration.

On the actual day of the “Real Time” taping, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to the podium regarding Kerry’s unauthorized meetings.

“You can’t find precedent for this in U.S. history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior,” Pompeo said in a press conference at the State Department. “It’s inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged.”

“I’ll leave the legal determinations to others,” Pompeo added. “But what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of State engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

The day following Kerry’s appearance on Maher’s show, Pompeo took to Twitter to post a pair of tweets that focused on the Obama administration’s dubious Iran nuclear agreement, which was arranged under Kerry’s stewardship.

“What @JohnKerry has done by engaging with #Iran’s regime, the world’s top state sponsor of terror, is unseemly, unprecedented, and inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy. The deal failed. Let it go,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

The secretary of state then added the following second post: “#JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] didn’t stop all paths for #Iran to develop nuclear weapons, contrary to the way it was sold to the American people.”

The “legal determinations” to which Pompeo made reference in his press conference involve the Logan Act, the same law that then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates used against then-National Security Advisor designee Michael Flynn.

The Logan Act does not apply to an incoming official engaged in transition activities for a new administration, which was the case with General Flynn. It would, however, appropriately apply to a former secretary of state who may have misused his contacts and secretly negotiated with a dangerous foreign power without authorization from the current administration.

Depending upon the specific details of Kerry’s interaction with Zarif, he could be subject to the provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires registration and transparency by individuals or companies acting on behalf of foreign governments, political parties, or persons. This is the identical statute that was used to prosecute former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Kerry appears to be unconcerned about the remarks that he made regarding his potential illegal behavior, focusing instead on how his humor is playing out with the leftist base and the greater public.

On Maher’s show, Kerry schooled the audience on how democracy relies on the truth, but the truth rings hollow with regard to current pertinent events surrounding Kerry, as well as some significant ones in the past.

“Unfortunately, we have a president,” Kerry said, “literally, for whom the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is three different things…”

It is the height of irony that the former secretary of state would invoke the value of truth. When Kerry returned from Vietnam, he used the anti-war sentiment that was prevalent in the media to acquire fame by making himself a leader of the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Kerry publicly relayed a number of gruesome tales, which accused U.S. military personnel of engaging in brutal war crimes. He now refers to his slanderous stories impugning the U.S. armed forces as an exaggeration.

As a set up to what Kerry must have thought was his line of the evening, he professed to not want to “get into a real riff” on it, but then suddenly the following words rolled off his tongue.

Speaking about the current president, Kerry said that he has “the maturity of an eight-year-old boy with the insecurity of a teenage girl.”

Kerry presently appears to harbor an intense desire to be the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the next election cycle. Among his many celebrated causes, he has professed to be a staunch advocate for women’s rights.

It will be interesting to see whether Kerry, with his “teenage girls” comment and his characterization of young women as “insecure,” will be held to account or even asked to explain how blatant stereotyping and not so subtle ridicule is somehow acceptable in the present day and age.

Les Moonves’s Career at CBS Comes to an End

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In July of 2018, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow completed a detailed investigation, centering on sexual misconduct allegations from six women against CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves.

The women claimed that Moonves had propositioned and/or had forcible physical contact with them, threatened retaliation against those who had rejected him, and otherwise maintained a workplace in which sexual harassment went unabated.

Allegations put forth by the women suggested that a toxic culture existed at CBS. When the allegations went public, Moonves responded at the time with an acknowledgement that he was responsible for making “some women uncomfortable.” However, he denied claims that he had harmed the careers of those who had resisted him.

It looked as though Moonves was on his way to weathering the #MeToo storm. CBS had launched an investigation into the allegations in Farrow’s report. However, Moonves was allowed to remain on the job while the investigation of sexual misconduct proceeded, unlike many other figures who had been accused of sexual impropriety.

Then, like a series of aftershocks after an earthquake, an additional six women stepped forward, via reporting by Farrow, with accusations against Moonves.

The most recent alleged incidents of sexual misconduct purportedly took place over a span of 30 years from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

The additional claims against Moonves by the second group of women contain more serious allegations than those reported by Farrow earlier in the year. This latest set of allegations includes incidents in which the entertainment executive is alleged to have forced victims to engage in sexual activity, exposed himself to alleged victims, or used physical violence and intimidation against them. Some of the women also claim that Moonves retaliated against them professionally after they refused to comply.

Some of the more recent accusers have chosen to go on the record and shed their anonymity, including a television executive whose claims date back to the 1980s and a former assistant who recounted an incident from 1994.

In a statement to the New Yorker, Moonves acknowledged that three of the encounters occurred and claimed they were consensual. He flatly denied using his position in a retaliatory way to interfere with the careers of the women.

Under the circumstances, options appear to be limited in this case. The relevant statute of limitations does not allow a proceeding using criminal law, and obtaining witnesses and/or documents from thirty or forty years ago poses a great deal of difficulty.

What really caused Moonves’s tenure at CBS to end, prior to the conclusion of the investigations, were reports in numerous media outlets that negotiations were taking place concerning a proposed exit package for the television executive that involved a large dollar amount.

The most recent accusers were prompted in part to come forward due to the public reports of Moonves’s exit package, which was said to be valued at approximately $100 million.

“Many of the women found that very, very frustrating,” Farrow told CNN. “They felt this was a board that has let a powerful man who makes a lot of money for this company, in the words of one person, ‘get away with it.’”

The end result is that six weeks after Farrow published the first allegations against him and twenty-three years after he first joined CBS, Moonves has been forced out of the network.

However, the previously reported $100 million payment package to Moonves is likely to be eliminated or drastically reduced, due to the increased potential culpability relating to the allegations of the second group of women as well as the cumulative effect of the allegations of all twelve accusers.

CBS’s leverage against Moonves has been significantly increased because the company is now able to claim that the executive may be terminated “for cause.”

Significantly, the exit agreement reportedly also includes a settlement of the litigation between Moonves and Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom. Moonves and Redstone had been in a heated legal battle over whether to combine CBS and Viacom, with Redstone urging a merger and Moonves resisting such a move.

With Moonves gone, the merger is highly likely to take place in the very near future.

Antitrust Law Should Be Used to Break Up Big Tech Monopolies

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President Donald Trump, via his Twitter account, recently prompted a public discussion about the possibility of using antitrust law against major technology companies, due in part to a growing body of evidence that bias is being perpetrated against conservative individuals and entities by such companies.

The primary rationale of antitrust enforcement is the protection of the American consumer and free market economy from unprincipled business behavior by monopolistic enterprises.

Never before in the nation’s history have companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, among others, possessed the size, wealth, dominance, control, and sheer power that the tech giants do.

With more than 70 percent of the PC search market and almost 85 percent of the mobile device market, Google currently has a virtual stranglehold on the gateway to digital information. And Google’s video social media platform, YouTube, controls almost 80 percent of the video market.

Facebook has about 2 billion users worldwide, and when the company’s additional acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp are factored in, 95 percent of young people regularly log on to Facebook platforms.

When it comes to Amazon, by the year’s end the company will have swallowed up almost 50 percent of the U.S. e-commerce business, and additionally lays claim to 80 percent of the e-book market. Amazon is also the largest provider of hosted cloud services, and the odds are strong that an online sales firm that competes with the company would likely be using Amazon servers for its own website.

Research on Google searches has produced data, which indicate that bias against conservative news outlets, blogs, and websites exists, and additionally indicate that ideologically right-of-center content has actually been removed from YouTube.

Despite Google’s denial of bias, PJMedia recently conducted a count of search results relating to President Trump and found that 96 percent of the most visible news articles that arose were generated from liberal outlets.

The Daily Caller reported that Google’s fact check feature engages almost exclusively in the targeting of right-of-center sites.

Facebook has exhibited bias in its trending topics, as well as in its removal of conservative content, and Amazon has manipulated book reviews to favor leftist writers.

Despite promises to the contrary, Facebook continues to censor ideas based on conservative content and has recently been caught doing so. A New York Post article by Salena Zito, which noted that supporters of President Trump were unaffected by the conviction and plea deal of two prominent Trump-associated individuals, Zito’s article was labeled as “spam.”

Facebook even took down an article titled “The School Shootings That Weren’t,” posted by NPR, that showed the number of school shootings, which were claimed to have taken place during the 2015–2016 school year, was highly inflated.

The president is correct in suggesting that the use of antitrust law against tech companies may be a necessary step that the government needs to take in order to awaken the tech giants to the duty that they have, to exercise greater responsibility in their approach to users and content. If they do not, consequences may result as seen with other companies, which were divided into smaller less monopolistic concerns.

In a previous antitrust filing, AT&T was split up into eight much smaller companies, and Standard Oil was divided into 34 firms. Each of these companies possessed the ability to almost totally dominate their respective market. The original AT&T accounted for 93 percent of all telephone calls made in the U.S., and Standard Oil sold 87 percent of U.S. refined oil.

An antitrust case that began in the early years of former President Bill Clinton’s administration was ultimately settled by the Department of Justice. Microsoft had been accused of abusing monopoly power on personal computers, in its handling of operating system and web browser sales, by bundling its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s actions are strikingly similar to a recent Google business practice. To insure its dominance of the mobile market, Google forced carriers and manufactures that used its Android operating system to make Google Search the default search engine and include a number of Google apps as well.

In 2008 the Bush Justice Department threatened to bring an antitrust action against Google, due to a proposed partnership with Yahoo for the sale of advertising. At the time, Google had a 70 percent share of the market, and Yahoo, with 20 percent, was the second largest search engine.

Due to the monopolistic realities of these giant tech companies, startups that might compete with the giants may end up being smothered. For example, an entrepreneurial startup company with products that compete with Google offerings has to be concerned that Google will give its own product a higher ranking and may even hide the new company’s competing products.

This poses a danger to the overall consumer market, because consumers lose the ability to become aware of and/or purchase any innovative products that startup companies might have to offer.

Both Google and Facebook maintain that their companies should not be the subject of antitrust scrutiny, because their product is said to be provided to their users free of charge. However, participants who are obtaining the services for free are not the actual customers of the companies. The real paying customers, in both search and social media, are the advertisers and publishers that pay for the ability to broaden their own pool of consumers.

The argument can be made that the big tech companies, via paid search advertising and paid social media advertising, have morphed into monopolies, and these monopolies have effectively stifled competition and innovation, while having a deleterious effect on the free market economy.