She has a habit of botching the moment, so this isn’t surprising.
The recent search into Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago has provoked many unique takes, with many being understanding and reasonable and others being the exact opposite. But as always, Susan Collins (R-ME) is here to give us the most tepid and equivocating opinion on the issue. Her take, though misinformed, is no less disgusting when one considers the severity of the allegations against Trump. Especially when one considers the recent allegations that Trump had nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago.
In a recent interview with NBC’s Maine affiliate, NEWSCENTERMaine, the Senator argued that if the search was just to seek documents illegally held by the former president, then a search was heavy-handed and unnecessary.
This argument aged like spoiled milk with the aforementioned report by the Washington Post, but it is even more frustrating when considering the nature of the search.
While it is unprecedented for a former president to have his home searched, it is not inherently incorrect solely because it breaks tradition. If a president is facing such a search, the first reaction should not be outrage but curiosity.
As I explained in one of my recent posts on the issue, if a president is being searched with a warrant, then chances are that a judge was presented with extensive evidence to support the need for a search. No judge worth their salt would risk their careers breaking tradition like this unless they had strong evidence to suggest it was necessary. Questioning why a search was necessary is one thing, but those questions should lead to an informed conclusion, not ignorant condemnation.
Senator Collins could have easily looked into Trump’s own legal record from his presidency and seen that he signed a bill making holding such documents illegally a felony, which would easily explain why the DOJ felt it was necessary to search Trump’s home.
All of this is to say that Susan Collins had every opportunity to understand the nature of the investigation and could have held off before seeking to condemn it without any basis to do so. Her work, insofar as one can call it work, has been nothing but unprincipled equivocation and lies.
I understand that Senator Collins has to play a more moderate tone due to her states’ political streak, but sometimes the people don’t need a representative; they need a leader. And Susan Collins is not that person, and she never will be.
This is not an article I ever thought I would have to write, but here we are. As my readers will know, I wrote an article earlier this week detailing how the recent search and seizure of Mar-a-Lago was important. However, I never imagined that the issue of nuclear weapons would be a part of this investigation. And yet, the Washington Post reported just that this afternoon, showing that the FBI was searching Trump’s Florida home for documents related to nuclear weapons.
Yes, you read that right. The FBI was looking into whether or not the former president was illegally handling sensitive information involving nuclear weapons.
I wish I could say this was a fantasy world, but considering the multiplenews organizations that have confirmed it, it seems like this horrifying reality is, in fact, real. Of course, some will argue this is propaganda, but the idea that any one of these news outlets would risk their credibility or a lawsuit over an allegation such as this when there is such a high level of investment in the case is absurd.
There is, of course, the issue of Trump himself. He has already denied the allegations, calling the allegation “sleazy, on his social media site Truth Social.
That denial will undoubtedly ensure that conservatives will attack the allegations against Trump, no matter how much evidence journalists find or how much the Department of Justice brings up against him. Instead, they will likely repeat Trump’s unending grievances as much as they can. But that isn’t new.
What matters here is that the Post found evidence that they felt was strong enough to run an exclusive and put it on the front page of their website. Said report comes in the middle of one of the most historic investigations in American political history, putting their reporting front and center in the public’s mind, meaning the burden of proof would have to exceed the standard that goes into most reporting.
While the report itself does not state whether or not the content concerned American nuclear weapons or other powers’ weapons, the fact that law enforcement was looking at all suggests that the former president and his allies were not as open with the documents they had as previously thought. More importantly, they seemingly didn’t care about the sensitive nature of the documents they had on hand. If true, then Trump is not only in trouble for abusing government records that don’t belong to him but could also run into serious trouble for handling content that threatens national security.
Whatever happens, Trump’s legacy will almost certainly be tainted by this, and his chances of running for public office may be in even more danger. We certainly live in interesting times.
In a rare example of good news, the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, had his Florida home raided by the FBI. The news that the investigative agency searched and confiscated materials from Trump’s house under a warrant is a blessing in a normally horrific news cycle. And most importantly, it reveals how far federal law enforcement is willing to go with their case against the former president and how far Republicans are willing to go to defend a corrupt oligarch.
HOW REPUBLICANS REACTED
Needless to say, Republicans are not having a good time with the news. Many took to Twitter later that night to decry what they saw as an attack on their beloved president. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to tweet that the investigation was a blatant political attack on Republicans and Trump, arguing that they should investigate the FBI once in power.
Others attempted to terrify their base, seemingly suggesting that the FBI had somehow violated Trump’s rights with the raid. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted her own statement, arguing that if the FBI could raid a president’s home, they could raid anyone, seemingly forgetting that the FBI already can do that if they get a warrant.
All this pearl-clutching by Republican leadership is remarkable since the same Republican Party has consistently made itself into the symbolic power of law and order. Trump himself used the phrase consistently throughout his presidency.
Despite that consistent branding, Republicans have seemingly forgotten what the law says regarding this investigation. After all, Trump is accused of violating 44 USC §§ 2201–2209, more commonly known as the Presidential Records Act. Under this act, all presidential materials are public property and must be turned over to the National Archives once the president’s time in office ends.
Trump repeatedly failed to provide documents to the archives, and some had to be removed from Mar-A-Lago by the National Archives earlier this year. Some of the documents were reported to be highly classified. In other words, Trump was found to have violated the act without any serious punishment, only for the FBI to come back and seek further evidence of wrong-doing.
WHY THIS MATTERS
It is easy to celebrate and assume that this will guarantee some sort of legal victory over Trump. And believe me, I celebrated. However, assuming victory before seeing charges is a mistake and will only cause more disappointment.
It is critical to keep our attention on countering propaganda about the investigation against Trump and those around him. Republicans will do everything in their power to misrepresent and downplay the investigation’s significance, and that can’t go without a backlash.
Even now, Trump faces yet another legal challenge from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who plans to depose him this week. If the pattern of Republican outrage holds true here, we can expect to see the same victim narrative. Said narrative must never get an ounce of legitimacy. Holding Trump to account means defeating his lies.
Despite his support for the pro-life movement, Pence’s position within the Republican Party is significantly weaker than he would like to believe.
Earlier this morning, I woke up to find an article in the Washington Post detailing that, much to my chagrin, former Vice-President Mike Pence is considering running for President. Or, at the very least, he is dipping his toes into the water, so to speak. I could go on about how horrible it would be if Pence became President or how fundamentally ill-equipped and bigoted he is when serving as a statesman. All of which would be fair if it weren’t for the obvious fact that Mike Pence running for President is a supremely foolish idea.
January 6 is Still A Problem
Right off the bat, it needs to be reiterated the GOP is firmly entrenched with the ideals of Trumpism and not, as Pence would like to believe, the stodgy good ol’boys Republican Party that he claims to represent. A recent pollconducted earlier this month shows that up to 70 percent of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was stolen, putting the former Vice-President in an already difficult position with his party’s base. Nor are these polls unique. They have been replicated time and time again.
The grievances that Republicans have over 2020 are key to the Republican Base. Hell, some Republicans threatened to hang Pence over this very issue.
Whether or not Pence likes it, the legacy of January 6 and the claims of elections being stolen will still be a major part of any Republican nomination for President in 2024. The Texas GOP has gone so far as to officially adopt resolutions denouncing the election as stolen and that there was fraud in “key metropolitan areas.” This isn’t going away any time soon.
As the man who refused to decertify the election results, any hope that Pence will have at the presidency will be restrained, if not killed, by the legions of pro-Trump voices demanding an explanation why he refused to fight so-called voter fraud. But that is not the only problem Pence faces.
Abortion is Popular, and Pence Has No Filter
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), Republicans across the nation began celebrating the decision, arguing that the decision was a victory for life. Pence, among those celebrating the decision, argued that the GOP should take it further. In an interview with Breitbart News, Pence argued that with Roe gone, it was time to initiate a federal abortion ban after the midterm elections, saying:
“Now that Roe v. Wade has been consigned to the ash heap of history, a new arena in the cause of life has emerged, and it is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and the support for women in crisis pregnancy centers to every state in America…Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.”
Mike Pence to Breibart News Reporter Matthew Boyle, June 24th, 2022.
However, other Republicans are much more reticent to engage in such a move. Former President Trump refuses to explicitly support an abortion ban, worrying that the recent ruling could provoke a backlash while praising it publicly. Even Ron DeSantis, who has been a strong supporter of Republican causes, has tempered his message on national bans, writing on Twitter that Florida will seek to expand “pro-life protections” without detailing what those are or how that will affect national abortion access.
It isn’t as if Republicans aren’t pro-life. They overwhelmingly are. Pew Research’s data shows that, on average, Republicans and Republican leans are strongly associated with the pro-life label, with 60 percent saying that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
But elections don’t belong to one party, and despite the level of attention given to Democrats and Republicans fighting, neither side has an absolute majority among the people in terms of partisan identification. Data released from Gallup shows that among respondents of the American public, 29 percent identify as Republicans, and 31 percent identify as Democrats. However, neither party has the plurality of the public either. In fact, 39 percent of Americans identify as independents as of May 2022.
This means that although Pence may get credits among Republicans for supporting a national abortion ban in the primary season of a hypothetical election, he does not have the means to expand upon that into a general election without addressing the plurality of Americans who are not strictly within the party line. And he could succeed, but that development will inevitably be an uphill battle as public opinion among the general public leans in favor of Roe v. Wade (1973) remaining the law of the land.
Among American adults, 61 percent said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 37 percent saying the opposite, per Pew Research.
Earlier this month, Gallup also reported that public support for abortion increased to all-time highs not seen since 1995, meaning that the general electorate is likely inclined against the attack on Roe.
Therefore, any attempt to attack Roe could backfire when faced with a general election. While it could boost him in a primary, winning said primary is only the first step. Appealing to a general electorate outside of your party and being able to create an effective agenda is a complex battle that requires restraint. Mike Pence has none of that restraint. Suppose Pence can rally Republicans to his side, which is unlikely considering Republicans still prefer Trump. In that case, he will still have to deal with the overwhelming and consistent unpopularity of his position.
Overall, Mike Pence represents a style of Republican politics devoid of force or power. He can try to control the conspiratorial elements of the Trumpist wing of the party as much as he likes. He could even appeal to his pro-life bonafides. Either way, he will eventually face the consequences of those same positions. Whatever moderating forces he has to appeal to the general electorate will be excoriated by the Republican base. The general public will reject whatever appeal he has toward the Republican base, especially regarding abortion. At his core, Mike Pence is a dead fish in politics, and it will take a miracle to save him.
This is not one of my usual posts, but I thought I would let you all know what is going on with the format of my website. For a while, I have had my interviews on a separate page on the website, where I manually posted the videos in a list of videos with a brief description. I have decided I don’t like that format and am changing it.
From now on, if there is a panel I was on or an interview I conducted, you will have it sent directly to your email from the normal blog system. If you want to see a list of my interviews, you can find them in the podcast section of the website. That system is automatic and can be updated without messing up the page.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to making more content for you!
Recent rulings against Fox News over its coverage of Dominion Voting Systems mean that the news site could face Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit in December.
In a rare example of good news, Fox News is increasingly looking like they will be forced to explain their coverage of dominion voting systems and the election conspiracy theories they espoused on their network. In a ruling for the Delaware Superior Court, Judge Eric M. Davis ruled that the infamous right-wing network may have acted with “actual malice” in its reporting and that the defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems against the network could proceed.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Actual malice, as cited by the judge, is a direct reference to a legal precedent set by the Supreme Court in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), a case in which the Court unanimously ruled that the New York Times was not guilty of libel. The Court reasoned that the petitioner, L.B. Sullivan, failed to show any intent to harm his reputation or any “reckless disregard” for whether or not what was written about him was true.
This standard established that unless public officials could show that the media outlets they were suing knew what they were printing was false or acted as though it didn’t matter, they couldn’t receive any damages. This standard is considered exceptionally high and rarely goes in the petitioner’s favor. However, Dominion’s suit might be the exception.
In the ruling for the Superior Court, Judge Davis cited news reports that Fox News staffers, particularly Rupert Murdoch himself, knew that many of the conspiracies that Fox broadcast on its platform were false. Namely, thanks to those reports suggesting that Murdoch denounced the idea that the election was stolen. Judge Davis further pointed to other Murdoch-owned press outlets debunking the 2020 election conspiracy theory, suggesting that Murdoch not only agreed with them but that he knew that Fox was lying.
“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion…Thus, Dominion has successfully brought home actual malice to the individuals at Fox Corporation who it claims to be responsible for the broadcasts.”
Judge Eric M. Davis in the case of U.S. Dominion INC v. Fox Corporation (2022)
With the case proceeding, it is increasingly likely that Fox will try to settle. Though it is not guaranteed. If Fox chooses to face the suit directly, they will face discovery, putting the right-wing network in an awkward and compromising position. If said discovery falls in support of Dominion, then Fox could be on the hook for a massive price of $1.6 billion if an alternative set of damages are not established.
While it is unlikely that a court would allow for such a massive cash prize for Dominion, any failure in this case outside of a pre-discovery settlement would prove disastrous for Fox’s reputation and its parent company, News Corps. Nor would it be unprecedented for right-wing news organizations to suffer due to their election coverage.
Newsmax, the infamous right-wing news organization, has faced similar issues as Fox, with the same judge rejecting the network’s attempt to throw out Dominion’s defamation suit against them. Putting the network in the exact same place as Fox. Former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are all facing similar suits by Dominion and have also lost their motions to dismiss.
While it is unclear what will happen, the fact that a judge has suggested that actual malice has been present in not just one instance of right-wing media but in multiple cases sets a dangerous path forward for the right at large. It also incentivizes Dominion to pursue damages to the fullest extent possible. Unless Fox and its ilk can turn the case around soon, they are in for one hell of a ride. And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where it will end.
No matter how much Republicans want to depoliticize shootings, the reality won’t change. Gun violence is a public issue and must be treated as such.
With the recent shooting in Uvalde and the criticism of the police response, the nation once again faces a reckoning over the nation’s gun laws. The pain and loss that comes with the death of 21 people inevitably provoke demands for action, but with those calls for change comes another response, with gun enthusiasts emphatically condemning the ‘politicization’ of shootings. To those who hold this position, shootings must remain apolitical out of respect for the dead, which is a massive mistake.
While it is understandable why people would want to avoid bringing politics into a tragedy such as a mass shooting, said shootings are already political and will remain so for the given future. Attempts to respect the dead, even when well-intentioned, will not change the public nature of those shootings.
Shootings, as consistent as they are in the United States, are a public problem. They destroy the lives of American citizens, subject the survivors to abject horrors for the rest of their lives and destroy the faith the people have in their public institutions and their own safety. Such a threat to the well-being of the American people will always be a matter of political concern.
The idea that this wouldn’t be political or a matter of public concern is not only naive but restricts the American people’s ability to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future.
Of course, there are also the individuals who want to restrict what is and isn’t political, so they can keep power out of the hands of the public and prevent changes in the nation’s gun laws. Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald are perfect examples of this.
Moreover, those who advocate for the idea that shootings must remain apolitical or that we must wait before we discuss gun control are almost always unwilling to consider how long we are supposed to wait before we say the obvious: America has a gun problem. Sandy Hook was ten years ago, and yet, it would not surprise me if there would still be people objecting to a discussion of gun laws surrounding Sandy Hook on the same grounds that they did ten years ago.
These obstructionist figures fail to provide solutions, and through their appeals to respect for the dead, they ensure that more innocent people will be killed. Whether or not Republicans like it, shootings are a matter of public concern and the sooner the American people come to terms with that, the sooner we can protect our citizenry from this horrific bloodshed.
Elon Musk is again in the news for conduct he allegedly engaged in with one of his employees in 2016. The alleged incident, published by Insider involved Musk running his hands along her legs without her permission, exposing himself, and offering to buy her a horse if she’d perform sexual acts with him. And while Musk has denied the claims, the allegations reveal yet another stain on the already checkered reputation of Tesla’s CEO. But more than that, it is another example of men in power abusing what power they have.
The allegations first reported by Insider have provoked various responses, with some drawing special attention to the report that Musk paid the woman into silence, offering her $250,000 to keep things quiet. Keith Olberman drew some attention to the issue, mocking the Tesla CEO for offering to buy a horse in exchange for sexual favors, with Olbermann tweeting a horse emoji to add an insult to injury.
Others, however, have risen to Musk’s defense, arguing that the timing of the allegations suggests a political agenda plays a role in recent reporting. Musk was previously planning to buy Twitter and take it private, much to the chagrin of some at Twitter and in politics. One user argued that the accusations were an attempt by the establishment to attack the CEO, presumably because of his opposition to Twitter’s current policies.
Elon himself repeated the argument, pointing to his planned Twitter acquisition as the reason for the allegations.
Despite the debate over the story’s origins, it is important to note that Elon does not have any evidence proving that the story is an attack on his political movement. Nor has he provided any. Instead, he has challenged the alleged victim to describe any “scars or tattoos” on his body to prove he exposed himself to her.
Such a challenge is unlikely to change the opinion of those already convinced of Elon’s guilt. Nor do they make Elon appear as composed and reasonable as necessary at such a volatile time.
What’s important to remember is that Elon has everything to lose and nothing to gain by ignoring these allegations, anonymous or otherwise. Before the allegations, Musk was fighting Twitter’s board as he tried to negotiate his acquisition before putting the issue on hold. Supporters of Musk pointed to his stated support of so-called free speech as a reason to support him in his struggle.
But with the allegations against him, Musk now faces the risk of his carefully crafted narrative and framing falling apart. Instead of being seen as a free-speech warrior fighting against tech oligarchs, Musk risks being seen as a rich predator with an overactive Twitter account. Such a shift in framing would inevitably undermine his credibility and reputation, effectively preventing his projects from going forward and could sink his planned acquisition of Twitter, or so one would think.
While it may seem as though Musk would be destroyed by such an allegation, American society has shown that it is not only capable of turning a blind eye to such misconduct but does so regularly. Comedian Louis CK was caught masturbating in front of women without their consent, and despite attempting to hide from the allegations, CK later confessed that he was guilty of exposing himself.
Despite that, CK has not only revamped his career but has won more awards. If anything, Musk’s reputation would take a hit, but he would not face any serious consequences. Of course, Musk’s likelihood of facing any legal consequences is almost nonexistent, as his influence on the public is extensive.
It is much more likely that supporters of Musk will disregard the allegation irrespective of the evidence provided and that this controversy will be forgotten by most of the American people. And judging by the news cycle thus far, I suspect it already has been.
Democracy is not self-maintaining, and freedom isn’t free. For years, Americans have been bombarded with these phrases, but very few fully comprehend the value of those words or the more subtle meanings behind them. Local news is on the decline within this day and age, and with it, an informed public. While there is no singular cause for said fall, one name stands out as a key accomplice in the death of local news: Alden Global Capital.
The decline of local news is not just some old tradition in decline. Since 2004, 2,000 American newspapers have gone out of business, making local news a struggling industry despite its incredible importance to the modern media environment. With media trust at an all-time low, local news is of the utmost importance to maintaining an informed and well-rounded American public. According to a study conducted by the Knight Foundation in 2019, 45 percent of Americans trust local news organizations “a great deal” compared to just 31 percent of Americans who say the same about national news outlets. 79 percent of Americans say that local news does a better job of reporting news they can use in their personal lives. The trust of the media, it seems, is tied to local, new companies.
Into this tragic reality comes Alden Global Capital. For those unfamiliar with this infamous New York Hedge Fund, AGC is one of the most ruthless investment companies in all of the news. They own 97 different newspapers as of 2018 and are notorious for squeezing companies dry of their journalistic value. All while leaving an already struggling industry in the dirt.
A Ruthless Strategy
In the Bay Area of California, this parasitical relationship was on full display. Through massive cuts and a lack of investment, AGC turned the robust regional news environment into a shell of its former self. What was once a strong but struggling community of sixteen regional papers and a thousand employees was soon turned into a ghost town of a hundred and fifty employees.
The Boston Herald, one of the oldest newspapers, went into bankruptcy in 2017 but was soon facing the ruthless ownership of Alden’s subsidiary, Digital First. The paper that was known for its exposés was soon being gutted like many papers before it. By 2018, the paper had gone from 225 employees fell to 110.
They’ve also bought the largest share of Tribune Publishing, which owned The Chicago Tribune and WGN America. They began to do what they’ve done to many companies before that, firing reporters as much as they could. Heidi Stevens, a former columnist with the Tribune, was soon scrapped despite her popularity. Others like the fierce and unrelenting Dahleen Glanton were also given the boot not long after Alden made its move.
Other newsrooms have tried to fight back. The Denver Post, which has been subject to some of these same cuts that have made Alden so infamous, has revolted through its opinion section, calling on Alden to sell the paper so that it could find a more suitable owner. A Colorado civic organization soon offered 10 million dollars to the company, hoping to protect the Post from Alden’s grip before the city lost its century-old newspaper.
Transparency? What’s that?
While some at Alden and other pro-business organizations may argue that the hedge fund must make these cuts, that might not be true.
In 2018, a minority of shareholders in Alden sued the company in the hopes of forcing another of Alden’s companies, Media News Group INC, to open its books to shareholders. These shareholders allege that the company was secretly funneling money while supporting failed investments, effectively violating their obligations to their stakeholders.
If true, then it would stand to reason that Alden’s real goals have little to do with necessity and more to do with unadulterated greed.
As it stands right now, Alden is taking advantage of an already horrible situation for its own benefit while undermining the very media institutions that could restore public trust and sanity. And if that isn’t a crime, I don’t know what is.