Thursday, May 31, 2018

Last Call For Television Rules The Nation

I'm old enough to remember when former VP Dan Quayle went after CBS sitcom Murphy Brown because the show "glorified" single motherhood and destroyed family values.  Meanwhile, a quarter-century later, Trump is now demanding TBS cancel late-night host Samantha Bee's show because she was mean to Ivanka.

The White House this morning blasted Samantha Bee and TBS over Bee having called White House staffer/ First Daughter Ivanka Trump a “feckless c**t” in a segment about President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

“The language used by Samantha Bee last night is vile and vicious. The collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. 
“Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast, and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.” 
TBS has not yet responded, but has pulled the video.

Though it had mostly been conservative critics blasting away at Bee this morning, CNN joined in this morning. 
“Let me just say, one parent to another – parent of a daughter – no, no, no!” CNN’s John King said of Bee’s remark, shortly after the White House issued its statement.
“Criticize the president’s daughter, criticize the policy. Some things just aren’t funny,” King insisted. 
“Roseanne’s racism is not funny. Samantha Bee using that word is not funny. Sarah Sanders just called it vile and vicious language. I could not agree more,” he continued.

Bee is falling all over herself trying to save her show, but it looks like hers is the head that has to roll in "exchange" for Roseanne Barr.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable,” Bee said in a statement. “I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.” 
In a subsequent statement, TBS wrote, “Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night. Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it.”

Bee's language was inappropriate and yeah, she's probably going to get canned before the week is out, but I have to say that when the White House press secretary starts demanding TV shows are canceled and networks oblige, how long before the Trump Regime demands that news outlets that dare to run stories critical of Dear Leader have their plugs pulled too?  That's actual censorship by the government, folks.  If this does happen, and it will, we cross a huge line that we don't come back from.

And no, this is wholly different from Roseanne's racist rant on Twitter yesterday that got her show yanked, but that doesn't matter.  The High Church Of Both Sides Do It must be appeased. I hope Netflix picks her up after Sam Bee loses her show, she's very talented, funny, and informative.  If she had said this last week however, she would have been fine.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The Powers The Be have decided that voters don't care about the Mueller probe or Trump's Russian collusion mess, and it's all about pocketbook issues in November.

Candidates barely mention it. TV ads don’t highlight it. Polls show Americans aren’t voting on it.

The Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is barely registering in the campaigns by Democrats seeking to wrest control of Congress from Republicans in November -- even as the year-long investigation has consumed Washington and poses a threat to Donald Trump’s presidency.

Over the last year, the probe into possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia has extracted five guilty pleas and 17 indictments, and has involved some of the president’s senior advisers, personal lawyer and family members. It’s become a focal point of partisan fighting in Congress and is a frequent topic of the president’s tweets.

Yet six months before elections for every House seat and a third of the Senate, Democrats have concluded the topic lands on deaf ears.

“I don’t think it’s a big issue for voters,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democrats’ election arm that’s working to take control of the chamber from the GOP. 
He said Thursday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that it’s “important for the country” that the investigation continue until it uncovers the truth of the president’s role in any collusion. But he said voters are more attentive to pocketbook issues such as reducing health-care costs, confronting China over its trade practices and ending tax breaks for hedge-fund managers. 
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said at a May 16 gathering of progressives in Washington that voters are “not asking me about Russian bots; they’re asking me about soybean exports.” 
In recent primaries -- including those in Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana -- Democrats and Republicans seldom mentioned Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. 
“It’s a non-issue here in Indiana. I don’t think voters care one bit about it,” said Kyle Hupfer, the chairman of the Indiana GOP. “I never heard it come up one time.” 
As November elections draw closer, the Russia issue could take on more prominence, especially if there are significant developments in the investigation. But there’s no sign of that happening yet as many candidates focus on primary races.

Core Democratic voters are unified in disdain for the president and in support of the special counsel’s investigation. But the probe hasn’t dented Trump’s high popularity among Republicans. Polls show four in five GOP-leaning voters nationally approve of his job performance.

While I gladly admit that Democrats should be running on health care, gas prices, and pocketbook issues (and how the GOP has failed America repeatedly on the economy) it's interesting to note that all voters cared about in 2016 was Clinton's emails, and Trump's massive wrongdoing "barely registers a blip" among voters now.

There's a problem with that, and it directly involves our lousy media living in perpetual fear of losing access to Trump when it seems every White House staffer with a grudge is leaking freely to everyone they can find these days because of the crumbling, chaotic mess that is the Trump regime, but I don't buy that voters don't care.

Republican voters don't care, sure.  But if Mueller moves this summer like I expect with more indictments and grand juries, I'm betting people will suddenly start paying attention again.

And you know who cares about Mueller and the Russia probe?

Donald Trump won't shut up about it and has wanted control of it since it began.

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

Investigators have pressed current and former White House officials about Mr. Trump’s treatment of Mr. Sessions and whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him. The attorney general was also interviewed at length by Mr. Mueller’s investigators in January. And of the four dozen or so questions Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump, eight relate to Mr. Sessions. Among them: What efforts did you make to try to get him to reverse his recusal?

The president’s lead lawyer in the case, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said that if Mr. Trump agreed to answer the special counsel’s questions — an interview is the subject of continuing negotiations — he should not be forced to discuss his private deliberations with senior administration officials. Talking about the attorney general, Mr. Giuliani argued, would set a bad precedent for future presidents.

Stay tuned.

Foot-Brawl Game, Or, Flag On The Play

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken the NFL to court over his very strong case that he was blackballed over his national anthem protests after 2016, and after depositions by NFL owners in the case, it seems that not only does Kaep have a winnable case, he may help bring down Donald Trump as well.

The first snippets of testimony have emerged from the depositions taken in the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance. And it’s becoming even more obvious that the NFL changed its anthem policy at the direct behest of the President
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, while testifying in the Kaepernick collusion grievance, shared the details of a phone call with the President.

This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” the President told Jones, according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.” 
The President was right. There was no way to win. Even by giving in. 
Per Beaton, the NFL declined comment on the matter, citing the confidentiality that applies to the grievance proceedings. A White House official did not dispute the testimony.

And as Kaep's lawyer pointed out last week, the Oval Office interfering in directly in business personnel decisions is a legal no-no.

As noted on Thursday by, attorney Mark Geragos suggested in a Thursday tweet that efforts of the top two members of the executive branch to pressure the NFL to force players to stand for the anthem potentially run afoul of Title 18, Section 227 of the United States Code. A violation of 18 U.S.C. 227 arises if the President and/or the Vice President intended “to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity” and “influence[d], or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another.”

A clear example of a prohibited action under 18 U.S.C. 227 would arise if, for example, the President pressures a news outlet to fire a reporter who asks too many tough questions, under threat of revoking access. While more murky as it relates to the NFL, it seems fairly clear that the President and/or the Vice President have pressured (successfully) the NFL to remove the pre-existing right of its players to protest during the national anthem. 
It feels too simple to be applicable, but the language is as plain as it can be. And the punishment feels too harsh, with imprisonment of up to 15 years and potential disqualification from holding office. 
But the law contains a bright line that potentially may have been crossed. The NFL is a private employer. The President and/or the Vice President successfully pressured the NFL to change its anthem policy to remove the right of players of protest during the anthem, which amounts to an employment practice.

In other words, Jerry Jones testifying that Donald Trump asked him and the other NFL owners to change their national anthem policy for players specifically because it helped Trump politically is kind of a big, big deal.

I'm betting I'm not the only person who noticed, either.


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