In an unprecedented move by the head honchos of social media, President Donald Trump had several posts on his Twitter account slapped with “fact check” disclaimer labels.
When internet companies were in their infancy back in the 1990s, Congress, via legislation, provided them with immunity from certain civil lawsuits in order to encourage the development of “platforms,” i.e., digital places for users to share user-created content.
Similar to bookstores that are not in the business of creating, editing, or publishing the material contained on the shelves of their stores, companies such as Twitter were granted special protection from lawsuits so that digital platforms that merely host media content created by third parties (their users) would be able to operate unhindered by the threat of legal action.
Companies with very large social media platforms have been acting as if they merely provide space for third parties to share, when in actuality it is just that, acting. Based on the same premise, they additionally continue to maintain that they should not be held liable for what their users post.
Twitter’s decision to fact check in such a high profile and subjective manner stands as a watershed moment in the relationship between government and social media.
By fact checking the President of the United States on, of all things, an issue related to potential election fraud, Twitter tossed its identity of being a platform out into the ethersphere. But it also let the cat out of the bag as to its real present status, that of full-fledged publisher.
Twitter expressed a political opinion when it engaged in its fact checking. The issue was a mega-politically charged one involving mass mail-in voting and whether such a process is ripe for fraud.
President Trump’s tweet was evaluated by the overseers at Twitter, and users were prompted to “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Upon clicking a link, users were subsequently instructed that “experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud,” an unmistakable political statement that also happens to be false.
If one is willing to dig a little deeper, what is discovered is that Twitter has implemented a policy that currently seems to apply to a single user—President Trump.
When a social media company engages in the same activities as a publication, it must be treated as if it were one. Newspapers, magazines, etc., fall under the umbrella of conventional publishers that create and edit their own content and are not exempt from liability.
Twitter has not been considered a publisher, despite the fact that it has been acting like one. But to exacerbate the situation, it has increasingly become a publisher of the most highly partisan kind. And it just so happens that, as of this writing, we are less than six months away from a presidential election.
Some big tech companies have also demonstrated a political bias in giving liberals a pass while engaging in an all-out targeting of conservatives.
–PragerU’s Facebook page was marked with a virtual branding iron as containing “false news” and was demonetized as well.
–A study from NYU on the addition of zinc to a hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin treatment was removed by YouTube.
–A hydroxychloroquine video by Sharyl Attkisson was also removed, although it was subsequently reinstated.
–A contrarian Michael Moore-produced documentary, “Planet of the Humans,” was yanked from YouTube.
As reported by Vox, a number of top Silicon Valley figures appear to be working behind the scenes in a concerted effort to get presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden elected. Big tech names include LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Apple founder Steve Job’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs, and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Twitter’s own Yoel Roth, who presently holds the title “Head of Site Integrity,” has referred to President Trump and his team as “actual Nazis.” Roth has additionally mocked Trump supporters, insulted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and provided campaign donations to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
President Trump recently signed an executive order that sets in motion a potentially costly change for Twitter with respect to the company’s civil liability exposure. The order directs all executive departments and agencies to ensure that their application of Section 230(c), the law that limits liability, falls within “the narrow purpose of the section.”
The executive order cites the legislative purpose of the law to maintain the internet as a “forum for a true diversity of political discourse.” The departments and agencies are instructed to “take all appropriate actions in this regard.”
The heads of departments and agencies must also review advertising and marketing expenses that are paid to Twitter and other online platforms. This includes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as other parts of the executive branch.
With regard to Twitter, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and others, it is possible that some of the personnel of these departments and agencies will be looking into the practice of the gathering of information about virtually everything users do and then selling the data for billions of dollars.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has already indicated that the DOJ will begin drafting legislation to regulate social media companies.
President Trump’s executive order may have an immediate limiting effect on social media and big tech’s future editorial actions.
Apparently, tech CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, have already heard the footsteps of the federal government. Zuckerberg recently distanced himself from Twitter when he told Fox News that the social media platform had, in his opinion, made a mistake, and that no social media platform should be the “arbiter of truth.”
The bottom line is that social media and big tech companies can’t have it both ways. And hopefully, in the very near future, they won’t.
As a nation we are all sacrificing to achieve a victory over the invisible enemy. However, we have another threat to with which to deal that involves an essential part of the American fabric, gainful employment.
President Donald Trump touched upon our need for honest and productive work in a recent briefing when he spoke about the importance of restarting the U.S. economic engine.
“Let me be extremely clear about one point. We will move Heaven and Earth to safeguard our great American citizens,” the president said. “We will continue to use every power, every authority, every single resource we’ve got to keep our people healthy, safe, secure and to get this thing over with.”
“We want to finish this war. We have to get back to work.”
This is a message we have heard from the president before. Rightly so because a shut down nation is not only unsustainable but actually poses a clear and present danger to all of us. The reality is that financial health has a great deal to do with the physical and psychological well being of the nation. For those who understand the risks economic damage is posing via a self induced-economic sleep, especially President Trump, the objective of getting the economy up and running as soon as possible is paramount.
The president indicated he had hoped to open up businesses by Easter, April 12, but he made an adjustment to the original time frame, extending our national social distancing effort to the end of April on the advice of his task force members.
President Trump also said he’s “thinking about” forming a panel to examine how best to restart the country’s economy, which he called a “good idea.”
“I’m thinking about it,” President Trump said at a White House Press briefing. “I continue to say, the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
The president tweeted an endorsement of a such a plan offered by Dana Perino, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, and now a commentator on Fox News, among other public figures.
She had suggested putting together a group of experts well suited to advise the president about dealing with the economic ramifications resulting from the economic shutdown created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Perino said this group would complement the team led by Vice President Mike Pence, “Let 1st task force focus on crisis at the moment,” Perino tweeted.
Reopening the businesses of the country would be the focus of such a task force. As the president has emphasized the shutdown of our enterprises goes against our nature. “The U.S. economy wasn’t meant to be closed as it is…We’re not going to have separation for the rest of our time on the planet,” he said.
President Trump hinted only a couple of weeks ago that he was thinking about balancing public-health restrictions with economic concerns.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted and was predictably attacked by the media and craven politicians for the idea.
It is clear that the cure has already cost millions of Americans their jobs. The leisure and hospitality sectors have been decimated.
The fact is that we can plan for our nation to go back to work and we can do it while simultaneously protecting those most likely to harmed by exposure to coronavirus infection, those immunologically compromised, those with chronic diseases, and the elderly.
Younger people without complicating medical conditions who have recovered from the virus and have demonstrable immunity could be allowed to return to work.
At an appropriate time, we also can reopen businesses with social distancing limitations and restart a significant part of our economic engine.
Retailers that have been allowed to operate because they sell groceries have already shown the way by establishing new procedures to sanitize shelves and shopping carts, and regulate the number of shoppers present in the store aisles.
A host of retail uses such as clothing, furniture, and jewelry, etc. should be allowed to innovate and reopen following the same kinds of safeguards that grocery and drug chains have implemented. If Walmart, Target, and CVS can be open during a pandemic so can a long list of other retail chains and small shops.
Two sectors that employ even more people in the nation than leisure and hospitality are manufacturing and construction.
Workers in these sectors do not normally interface with the general public and could be allowed to start again with safe operating practices and with workers practicing social distancing.
Getting factories and construction sites back online would bring back needed jobs and move the country further along the road toward a total economic restart.
Seeing these sectors open up again would remove some of the uncertainty, instill hope, and allow a significant number of Americans to engage in gainful employment, the productive pastime our people love.
In a recent dissent to a Supreme Court decision, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor crossed the bounds of judicial norms by accusing her fellow Supreme Court colleagues of being biased toward the Trump administration in carrying out their judicial work.
The case before the High Court, Wolf v. Cook County, deals with circumstances in which the government could deny visas or green cards to non-citizens who are looking to enter the United States.
In 2019 the Trump administration, via the Department of Homeland Security, issued a new rule to be used for the purposes of determining whether an individual could be granted legal entry into the United States.
The executive branch already had the authority to determine whether an individual who applies to enter the country is likely to become a “public charge,” i.e., a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”
However, certain non-cash financial aid items, such as food stamps, housing, and health care assistance, were not previously taken into account for such purposes, but were included under the new Trump administration rule.
Prior to hearing this case, the High Court had blocked two nationwide injunctions that were issued by lower courts, resulting in the enforcement of the new rule. However, a third injunction, which was limited only to Illinois, remained in effect, barring the implementation of the new rule in that state.
The Trump administration filed an application with the High Court for an emergency stay, which requested that the Justices block the Illinois injunction that allowed Illinois to continue to exclude non-cash financial aid items from being a part of the dependency assessment.
The High Court’s decision to halt the Illinois injunction and allow the state to consider non-cash financial aid thus enabled federal authorities to enforce the new policy in Illinois.
In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor enlisted a highly unusual comparison to bolster her argument against the majority’s approach to the government’s stay applications. Drawing similarities to arguments brought by those advocating for death row inmates, Justice Sotomayor accused fellow members of the High Court of showing greater concern for President Donald Trump than for convicts facing execution.
In an apparent incrimination of five of her fellow colleagues, Justice Sotomayor alleged that they had politicized their rulings.
Justice Sotomayor had voted in the subject case, Wolf v. Cook County, along with three Democrat-appointed Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.
As a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court, I have had the privilege of having dozens of cases come before the High Court and found it disconcerting to read that Justice Sotomayor had written that the five Republican-appointed Justices were “putting a thumb on the scale in favor” of the Trump administration.
There is an unspoken yet palpable expectation that political opinion as it may potentially relate to a judicial ruling would be conspicuously left behind at the courthouse steps.
In addition, Justice Sotomayor was highly critical of the frequency of the relief from the High Court, in the form of stays against injunctions, which had been sought by the Trump administration.
“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. She went on to assert that the High Court is biased in favor of the Trump administration when it comes to these stay applications.
The notion asserted by Justice Sotomayor that the Republican-appointed justices on the High Court are politically biased does not appear to square with the records of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
In 2012, Chief Justice Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the majority decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which was a clear departure from conservative ideology. And Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, both of whom were appointed by President Trump, have sided at times with the four Democrat-appointed justices in relation to several cases.
In her recent writing, Justice Sotomayor appears not to have taken into account the reason for the larger number of stay applications. The increase is due to the unprecedented use of the federal courts by opponents of the president.
In 2019, during a speech to the American Law Institute, Attorney General William Barr cited the widespread use during President Trump’s term of nationwide injunctions that affect presidential policies.
The numbers correspond with the misuse of the judiciary in an unparalleled way. During the entire 20th century, courts issued just 27 nationwide injunctions of this type; however, in the three short years that President Trump has occupied the Oval Office, activist judges have attempted to hamper his administration with 40 nationwide injunctions.
“When a nationwide injunction constrains a significant executive policy, the Justice Department has little choice but to seek emergency relief,” Attorney General Barr noted. “… the alternative is for the government to wait months or years for appeals to run their course before the executive may implement its policy at all.”
An idea has been floated by Republican leaders to pass a resolution that would fundamentally alter the impeachment record of President Donald Trump.
The means that would be used to bring about the auspicious outcome is a legislative approach commonly known as expungement. When finalized, the “impeached” label would be amended in the record books, as would the “forever” characterization attached to it by the House Speaker.
More than merely a sound idea, expungement is a necessary one because of the fatally flawed process that the House of Representatives used to pursue the impeachment of the president in the first place.
The impeachment inquiry began without a vote. The hearings featured secret witness “auditions.” The evidence produced was largely inadmissible hearsay and opinion. And rules that were imposed during the process prevented the accused from mounting a defense.
The above mentioned, as well as other defects in due process, make it imperative for the GOP to re-take the House of Representatives and for the new leaders to expunge the impeachment of the president, which will thereby restore integrity to the record.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is on record as being in support of this concept.
“This is the fastest, weakest, most political impeachment in history,” McCarthy told the New York Post. “I don’t think it should stay on the books.”
In addition to McCarthy, influential GOP members of the House, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep Lee Zeldin, (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), have all voiced approval of the idea.
So has President Trump. When asked by a reporter whether he believed the House should expunge his impeachment from the congressional record, the president responded, “They should because it was a hoax. It was a total political hoax.”
Expungement of a presidential impeachment remains the subject of debate by legal scholars. In my personal legal opinion, though, it clearly can be done.
If we take a look back at the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, we see where the precedent for an expungement was set
In 1832 President Jackson, a Democrat, ran for re-election. His opponent was National Republican Party candidate Henry Clay. Jackson won.
However, Clay’s party took control of the Senate. Under Clay’s leadership, the Senate demanded the delivery of documents from the Jackson cabinet related to a dispute over a presidential veto. After President Jackson refused to release the documents, Clay introduced a resolution to censure him, and after weeks of debate the resolution was passed.
Then in 1837 the Democrats regained the majority in the Senate. They proceeded to have President Jackson’s censure expunged from the record.
If a federal legislative body has the power to expunge a resolution that censures the president, I contend that it likewise has the ability to expunge an impeachment.
Some cable news experts have argued that if the House could expunge an impeachment, it would have done so with President Bill Clinton. Interestingly, this is precisely what Democrats tried to do.
The year was 2010. A dozen years had passed since the impeachment of President Clinton had taken place for misconduct relating to an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) introduced legislation to expunge the Clinton impeachment. He was unsuccessful in his effort, and later he himself wound up in prison for bribery, money laundering, and fraud.
A Republican House can and should work to expunge from the record the impeachment of President Trump. A GOP-controlled House would not be bound by an impeachment resolution passed by a previous House.
Although it is unlikely that some of the more vocal opponents would be silenced, an investigation by a GOP-controlled House may have an effect on the way in which history would be interpreted.
House Republicans plan to investigate lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and/or his staff’s potential connections to the so-called whistleblower. There is an origin story to the manner in which the whistleblower’s information came to light and the reason why it conflicted with the actual transcript of the president’s telephone call.
The withholding of the 179-page transcript of testimony given by the eighteenth witness, a.k.a., the inspector general of the intelligence community, will be one of the first documents a future Republican House will want to see.
Supporters of President Trump and many independent voters observed how the House hearings were conducted and largely concluded that the impeachment process was unfair to the president.
Increasing public awareness of the potentiality for an expungement will have a ripple effect in the political world and may ultimately boost an already high GOP enthusiasm level, which will assist Republicans in flipping the 18 seats needed to regain control of the House.
Expungement just may be right around the 2020 corner.
As the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump comes to a close, Democrat resistors are having a hard time coming to grips with an impending acquittal.
Perturbed members of the opposition party have now chosen to engage in a smear campaign that characterizes the Senate proceedings as illegitimate.
Using a worn-out playbook from past attacks, some of the more spiteful Dems are trying to massage the minds of a would-be unsuspecting public that the acquittal of President Trump somehow lacks legitimacy because of a supposed deficiency of witnesses or documents.
In an appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show on January 17, 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the following: “You are impeached forever,” punctuating her comment with the line, “No matter what the Senate does, it [impeachment] can never be erased.”
On January 30, 2020, the day before the Senate voted against subpoenaing additional witnesses or documents, Pelosi said to a reporter, “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that.”
The very next morning, which was also prior to the pivotal Senate vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The president’s acquittal will be meaningless, because it will be the result of a sham trial. If there are no witnesses, no documents in this trial, there will be a permanent asterisk next to the acquittal of President Trump written in permanent ink.”
Other Democrats joined in with the spin, as did most of their willing media accomplices.
Many will recall when the Democrats flooded the media with a similar set of talking points at the conclusion of the confirmation process for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Some of the more spiteful Dems contended that the process would be unfair and tainted if there was not a delay for an FBI investigation.
After the president and the GOP relented to a week-long FBI investigation, certain Democrat office-holders ran to the microphones to assert that the investigation was insufficient and the confirmation process flawed.
Once again, it really would not have mattered how the GOP senators had proceeded with the impeachment trial. If the trial did not match the outcome that the removal-oriented Democrats wanted, they would have followed up with a coordinated negative message anyway.
The Constitution grants the Senate the sole power to try all impeachments. The Speaker of the House has no real role in an impeachment trial. However, as Pelosi did when she conditioned the delivery of the Articles of Impeachment, the House speaker is attempting to exercise influence and exert control over the Senate impeachment function.
In stark contrast to the way in which the House hearings unfolded, the Senate conducted the impeachment trial process in a fair and dignified manner. While carrying out its constitutional duty, the Senate received and considered a record produced by the House of Representatives. Seventeen of the 18 witnesses from whom the House obtained testimony had their transcripts released. Noticeably absent was the transcript of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who gave testimony that is widely believed would have been helpful to the president’s case.
During the Senate trial, members of the Senate, acting as a jury, listened to more than 190 portions of testimony from 13 of the House witnesses, and additionally had access to almost 29,000 documents.
It was the House Democrats who made the decision to disallow any witnesses that would support the president’s case. It was also the House Democrats who chose not to subpoena other witnesses, because they apparently did not wish to take the time to allow the judicial branch to do its job; that is, the job of dealing with the important constitutional issue of executive privilege.
Some of the more spiteful Dems seem to enjoy projecting the image of wrapping themselves in the Constitution, while they slice it to ribbons with deceitful words and duplicitous conduct.
Many of the previous foreign policy makers of our country have turned a blind-eye to the evil that has emanated from Iran over the years. A glance back helps to explain where we are now, how we got here, and what we need to do moving forward.
The year was 1979. Fifty-two of our people were being held hostage in a U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Our own would be forced to endure captivity for over a year.
The Iranian regime had claimed that Americans were being held by a group of “students.” This would be the first of many falsehoods to come. The truth was the real hostage takers were actually armed personnel who reported to dictator Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran adopted a strategy of attacking the United States and her allies in an indirect manner, thereby making things appear to be something other than what they actually were. Plotting continued over the years via the application of a deceitful formula that used proxies, militias, terrorist organizations, and the like as covers behind which the country could slyly hide.
The scheme ultimately expanded into an enterprise of indirect warfare led by international war criminal and terrorist Qasem Soleimani. It would tragically remain in place. But thanks to action taken by President Donald Trump, which culminated in a precision drone strike, Soleimani’s sinister reign came to an end.
For those who dispassionately examine the facts, the take-down of Soleimani is good news, not only for the Middle East, but for the world. As the architect of the Iranian effort to exert influence outside of the country’s borders, under his diabolical direction roadside bombs were provided to Sunni terrorists, support was supplied and advice was given to the terrorist group Hezbollah, a civil war in Yemen was fomented, and Shiite militias were used to attack U.S. personnel and interests.
Soleimani planned and implemented almost all of the terrorist attacks of the Iranian regime and its proxy groups across the globe. The Shiite terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East were under his control. He and his proxy groups were behind the flow of IEDs to Iraq and Afghanistan, he used rooftop snipers in both Iran and Iraq to kill protesters who were demonstrating, and on and on it went.
Much as it did with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in labeling him an “austere religious scholar,” The Washington Post called international terrorist Soleimani a “most revered military leader.” Rather than revered, the overwhelming majority of Iranians viewed him as a brutal participant of an oppressive regime.
Mere days before Soleimani was removed by the American military, he appeared to be trying to conjure up a sequel to the above referenced hostage crisis of 1979. But this time around, instead of “students” Soleimani used “protesters” to attack a U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
President Trump’s action in removing Soleimani stands in stark contrast to the feeble policies of past administrations toward Iran. This, in part, may explain why Democrat lawmakers and former Obama administration officials displayed such inexplicable and over-the-top public reactions to President Trump’s Iranian action.
Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi used language that implied a war crime had been committed. She additionally used a legislative session to pass an unconstitutional resolution to place restraints on presidential power.
Former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who was instrumental in the promotion of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, came forward to claim that President Trump’s action would lead to war. He wrote via his Twitter account that the drone strike on a terrorist leader “is a really frightening moment…”
Former Obama Defense Department official Kelly Magsamen tweeted that she was “honestly terrified” and sent up an additional prayer petition of “God help us.”
While at a recent campaign event for Democrat 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, former Obama secretary of state John Kerry weighed in with his assessment of President Trump’s decision, characterizing it as a “tragedy” and stating the following: “If this develops into a tit for tat increased effort, it will become a war that is needless, it didn’t have to happen, and it will be a reckless war of choice by the president of the United States.”
Interestingly, in a recent appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Kerry was asked about his role in releasing billions of dollars to Iran while serving in the Obama administration. He responded to the question with a non-responsive reference to the president’s tweet on the subject.
He had admitted to CNBC back in 2016 that “some” of the money would end up in the hands of “entities, some of which are labeled terrorists.”
Fast forward to 2020. When asked in the above referenced CBS appearance why he believed the release of the money was a risk worth taking, Kerry failed to respond, choosing to attack the president instead. He never did explain why he authorized giving a lawless regime an extraordinary amount of money without knowing where the funds would end up.
President Trump has been remarkably consistent. He has shown a great deal of restraint in his use of limited targeted action, while still displaying strength and resolve. It is clear from Iran’s failed missile attack against U.S. forces in Iraq that the regime has a healthy fear of the Trump administration. And so it should.
In the aftermath of the Soleimani saga, a healthy fear is precisely what is needed to keep our country and the world solidly on the brink of peace.