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Friday, May 13, 2016

Trump To Begin Evisceration Of Press Freedom With WaPo

by JASmius

Don't even waste your breath shrieking back at me about media bias, Trumplicans.  First of all, I get it, the media is tilted way to the left, they're an arm of the Democrat Party, they're Barack Obama's propaganda ministry, etc.  That's only been common knowledge since before I was born, which is now over half a century in the past.  The only thing that's changed about that in recent times (i.e. since 2008) is that they stopped pretending objectivity to get THEIR "god" elected.  But they've always been on the other side.  So stipulated.

But then there really never has ever been such a thing as an unbiased press over the course of American history.  Newspapers have always had respective editorial viewpoints.  It's that prior to the middle of the last century, there was some degree of partisan/ideological parity to it.  Then the left's march through American societal institutions took over, the deck was stacked, and it's been that way ever since.

But see, here's the thing about that: A totally biased press is desperately unhealthy for the continuity of a free society, and it's an abuse of First Amendment press freedom....but it's not unconstitutional.  It can't be, because the alternative - government policing of the media to enforce "objectivity" ("Fairness" Doctrine, anyone?) - is antithetical to freedom and liberty of thought and the very epitome of the tyranny that the Founding Fathers fought the American Revolution to eradicate.  Freedom of the press means the press has the right to be wrong.  And to be protected against an authoritarian despot seeking to use the police power of the state to silence them, or dictate to them what they can and cannot say, thought-police style.

Which is what makes Donald Trump's open threat to crack down on the Washington Post in retaliation for doing nothing more than the sort of vetting of a presumptive major party presidential nominee that it is their job to do (except of Barack Obama, of course) yet another illustration of several things: (1) that Trump can't even SPELL the word "constitution", (2) he'd be as big or bigger a dictator than Obama, and (3) he is dangerously unfit for, and must not be entrusted with the powers of, the presidency of the United States:

In an interview with Fox News last night, Donald Trump issued a thinly veiled threat against the Washington Post, suggesting that the paper’s investigations into his background were in fact part of a tax dodging scheme, and hinting that as president, he would crack down on such behavior. Trump’s remarks were a clear attempt to intimidate his political critics, and they should terrify anyone who is concerned about abuse of government power, executive overreach, or freedom of the press....

Trump has offered plenty of evidence throughout the campaign that he is a bully who personalizes even the mildest criticism and has no respect for freedom of the press. But even still, this is deeply worrying stuff.

Trump is singling out a media company for its reporting into his candidacy, and then suggesting that the investigations are an attempt by the paper’s owner to avoid a federal investigation into another one of the owner’s businesses, Amazon, under a Trump presidency — an investigation that Trump, by saying that Amazon’s behavior is "wrong," implies he might undertake.

As with nearly all Trump remarks, it is a kind of word salad. But even still, it is difficult to read this as anything other than a threat to use the power of the federal government to crack down on a bothersome political critic.

Remember back in 2009 when the Obama White House tried to ban Fox News from the White House press corps?  A punitive, vindictive act against a dissident media outlet so egregious that the rest of the media threatened to walk out in solidarity with Fox unless the Obamunists relented, forcing the latter to back down?  Remember how we all called that what it was - a blatant attack on freedom of the press?  What Trump is threatening is worse.  It's Nixonian AND Obamunist "enemies list" stuff.  It is blatant abuse of power.  It's Putinesque, tinpot, banana republic garbage.

So, Trumplicans and #NeverHillary-ers, let me ask you the $64 question: Did you vehemently oppose this tyranny when Obama did it because it was tyrannical or because it was Obama that was doing it?  But now that Trump is threatening to do it to the "right" people, it's all good?  Does your brand of "conservatism" still have a single gluon of connection to the Constitution or has it been YUUUUUGEly transformed into tribalist "payback"?

This really should be making #NeverHillary folks' toes curl out their plantar fascias for what they are rationalizing themselves into supporting - which is nothing less than the torching of what's left of the very Founding Document they desperately want to convince us #NoneOfTheAbovers that they're trying to save:

Free speech? [Trump] will “open up the libel laws” to allow public officials to sue the media, and use the Federal Communications Commission to fine critics. Private property? To Trump, eminent domain is a “wonderful thing” and is not actually “taking property” because the owner can move “two blocks away.” Faithfully executing the law? His harebrained scheme to make Mexico pay for the border wall ignores the clear text of a statute and unilaterally prohibits foreign commerce. Serving as commander in chief? Trump has already pledged that he would violate international treaties and domestic law. The military “won’t refuse” his illegal orders. “Believe me,” he promised. Protecting our national security? Trump has lauded FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans, one of the darkest hours in the history of our Republic. And what about the Supreme Court? Assuming he keeps his promise to appoint conservative jurists — and that this promise is not merely a negotiating tactic — Trump’s approach would likely mirror that of George W. Bush: appoint justices who will defer to bold assertions of federal power. Judicial minimalist, thy name is John Roberts.

These are the unconstitutional things Trump has told us he will do. I shudder to think of the trump cards the boardwalk emperor is holding close to his vest. For Trump, courts are merely a venue to silence critics, seize property, and evade creditors through bankruptcy protections. At every juncture, Trump uses and abuses the legal process to aggrandize his own personal power, bragging that “on four occasions I have taken advantage of the [bankruptcy] laws of the country.” Taking advantage of the laws aptly summarizes his approach to the law. Perhaps this makes him a shrewd businessman [NOT a "capitalist"] but this ethos — and his promises to continue such egregious behavior — renders him ineligible to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” [emphasis added]

Because he would systematically use it as bathroom tissue - a feature, not a bug, as it were - same as Barack Obama.  And I thought that constitutionalists thought that was wrong regardless of partisan affiliation.  Or at least those who are not Cloward-Pivening their own imaginations to rationalize the unacceptable.

Concludes Mr. Blackman:

The glue that holds our Republic together is the separation of powers — something the presumptive Republican nominee seems utterly unconcerned with. Perhaps I can illustrate the separation of powers with an image even Trump will understand: a wall. The separation of powers exist between the three branches to block one faction from abusing and exploiting the other. In the timeless words of James Madison in Federalist #10, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

After eight years of an Obama presidency, there are no longer walls between our branches. Perhaps, there are what Trump would call small fences, or what Mr. Madison would call “parchment barriers.” The problem with these fences, as Trump has observed, is that ambitious people will trample over them. In such a regime, our most fundamental freedoms are in jeopardy. However, under Donald Trump’s constitution of one, there would be no wall. There would simply be a Boardwalk Emperor, unconstrained by the rule of law, who will do something terrific. Sad.

Instead of building a Mexican wall, we need to rebuild the Madison Wall, and reassert the defined spheres of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. It is only a Republic, if we can keep it. [emphases added]

And all true constitutionalists said, "Amen!"

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