Monday, June 19, 2017

Blocked from Twitter

Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University is considering suing President Donald Trump for blocking people from his Twitter account. (1)

Isn’t that a right of every social media user?  Blocking is a great way to protect privacy, express outrage about a tweet you disagree with and the final act of giving up an old girlfriend.  But, if you are the President of the United States, it shouldn’t be a freedom that is enjoyed. 

To place this in context, what if the President of the United States used caller ID and blocked your phone calls?  You wouldn’t be able to express your view point on an item of importance to the nation.

How about if the post office, noticing that your letter is being sent to the president, wouldn’t deliver it to the president because of his orders. 

How about Western Union being instructed by the president to not deliver telegrams from you.   

If the president doesn't like you, or your opinions, he still can't deny access to you by stopping all letters, post cards, telegrams or any other communication with him.

As a private citizen, blocking someone on Twitter or any other social media can be allowed.  But, as soon as a private citizen becomes a public citizen by running for office, holding office, working for the government as an appointee or employee, especially as the most important public citizen in the country, the rules change. 

This is a basic First Amendment right.  While it isn’t directly “speech”, it is an element of speech called access.  A free press, widely interpreted as free speech, has 6 parts.  They are access, inquire, records, publication, association and redress.

Access is the ability to “reach” the official.

If a citizen of the country doesn’t have access to what is being said by the people that make, enforce or judge the laws of the country, they are not able to fully exercise their First Amendment rights.  Once a person crosses the line from private citizen to public figure (government official) citizens of the country must be able to have access to him or her just like anyone else.  To block some citizens and keep others is like creating a first tier - second tier relationship with the very people you are to protect and support equally.

Conventional forms of communications; letters, telegrams, voice; have helped define our First Amendment rights.  No matter the form, delivery is assured to the official.  He or she can choose to read and consider each piece of communications, or toss it in the trash, as I am sure much of it does. 

Social media has changed much of the structure of communications.  In the past, a public official may have selected a traditional medium, like a newspaper, a radio station or a television program, to communicate to the public.  Even though access for some people in the country might be difficult using traditional media, none can be cut off from its access.  Response through the same channels was accessible.    

Yes, when President Trump chooses to use Twitter to communicate his thoughts and policy statements, he has chosen a medium that all citizens have broad access to.  But, there is an element that is a component of the medium that isn’t included in tradition media.  Users can be cut off by the President by his ability to block.  Those cut off don’t have access to what is said and don’t have the ability to communicate back in like form. 

The President of the United States’ expressions of thoughts on policy must be open to all to both receive and respond.

Other thoughts to consider:
Courts have consistently supported the difference of a private and public profile.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Here is what President Trump's son said about Kathy Griffin's tasteless tweet:

First, it is not the "Left."  It is one person's expression that may or may not be on the left.

Second, many leaders on the Left have expressed their outrage of the tweet.

Finally, some people have express much worse about Obama.

Just take a look.

Mr. Trump, Jr., I understand a son supporting his father.  I even understand supporting a President you may have voted for.  But, at least don't be hypocritical.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It is Going to Be Right for a While

Today, I have empathy for my conservative friends.  That empathy springs not from what is happening today, but for what has happened over the last 50 years.  The United States for the most part has been moving left.  The conservatives must have been dishearten, challenged and downright bitter that things weren’t going their way.  Now, I can say, my feelings are about the same.  They, of course, must be gleeful.

The country is taking the sharpest of turns to the right.  We are speeding along a highway to get as far right as possible to both make up for lost time and to be as far right as possible when the left takes over again.  (Which I think it is going to be right for a while.)  I have become very dishearten since the last presidential election about the direction of the country and its relationship in the world.  President Trump is keeping aim on his core consistency, which seems to be holding its support for the president, with every policy decision he makes and is not concerned with those that are negatively affected. 

President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement was what sent me over the edge. (1)  There is a climate problem and we humans are both causing it and making it worse.  The effects of the problem will be severe in the very near future and far reaching for human existence.  If you think there isn’t a problem or that humans aren’t causing it, please read the blog posts about climate listed as 3, 4, 5 and 6 below.   

President Trump is getting all the focus, but he is not really the leader (2) of all this change.  He did win the election with a majority of the Electoral College.  Like the college or not, that does mean that he had the backing of the local, state and national elected officials.  So, the “leadership” he is taking credit for is more like marching orders from his core voters and from the new right in the country.  

Trump is but a side bar to a new right guard that has taken over.  This right guard believes in a social evolutionary environment where a core established tier of anti-government collective is deeply concerned about holding on to their own.  In fact, they are more concerned about holding on to their wealth, (and gaining more) then they are for the environment or those that are not among them in the same social-economic status.

If you do not believe in this anti-government collective read the book Dark Money by Jane Mayer.  (7)  It details how since the 50’s a small group of very wealthy people have kicked and scream about governmental rules that are meant to protect everyone, but most importantly the disadvantaged and powerless.  (I tried to find a simple word that meant, “citizens with little power” but could not find one better other than powerless.)

The country is returning to an elitist entitlement environment.  If there isn’t a fire wall established, we will see the destruction of a way of life – and I don’t mean creative destruction. 

(1)    “We are getting out” of Paris Climate Accord
(2)    Leadership defined

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don't blame the group

Don’t blame governments, corporations or religions (i.e. as in the case of the last few days; ISIS) for the actions that appear to come from them.  These organizations don’t speak for everyone in them.  They are not an entity that exists in the real world.  They don’t just magically make things happen.

There are people that believe in the mission statements of these organizations that make things happen.   They sign the executive orders and memos, create the policies, interpret the belief systems, carry out orders and, in some cases, injure and kill innocent people that don’t always share the belief system of organization they are attacking.

Every time we blame a corporation, a government or a religion for actions that harm people we give cover to the people that carryout the actions. In some cases, we make them heroes.  We also justify our own response by punishing, harming and killing all people in the organization staking claim to the evil act regardless of each member’s personal beliefs. 

Action against an organization creates a response of revenge against an organization.

So, next time you want to blame an organization for things that have happen, don’t.  Blame a person.  Seek the individuals that carried out the action.  Punish them.  This will send a message of support to those that don’t share the criminal’s beliefs and warn those that will consider future action that they personally will be sought, will be personally held responsible and they will have no cover.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deep State Officials

New phrase is creeping into the American Political scene.  DEEP STATE OFFICIALS.

Note the following from The Hill, Friday, May 12, 2017.

“Do we now have to worry about deep state officials that gather intelligence are going to go after Americans and the president (President Trump) politically, or the FBI, some that don't like him might be leaking to hurt this president?,” Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s top boosters in conservative media, asked on his Wednesday night show. [The wording of the question is exactly like it came from Mr. Hannity’s show.]

In the article the term is used many other times by different people, even once by The Hill itself.

This reminds of the many terms used by authoritarian governments that attempt to identify the opposition as evil.

This phrase is worrisome.

We will see where it goes.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trump wants to sue the press for libel

President Trump set up an executive order signing ceremony on Friday.  He was to sign two documents that would make a shift in the trade policies of the United States.  After a brief statement, he walked out of the Oval Office.  He asked (ordered?) Vice President Mike Pence to pick up the folders with the executive orders as the President left the room.

The Vice-President did just that, walking out of the room along with the two guests that were to witness the signing.  Doors closed and the room is empty of officials.  Only the security guards and reporters left.  The reporters asking each other, he didn’t sign, did he?

What just happen?

An article in the New York Times the next day, discussing the orders, implied that the orders were eventually signed, I assume in the room where everyone withdrew to.

The reporters in the room were asking Mr. Trump about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s possible appearance before a congressional committee investigating Mr. Flynn’s and the Trump’s election campaign involvement with the Russians.  (We use that word “Russians” now not as a collective noun as meaning the people of the country and government but more as a personal noun meaning some dark and evil blob like the Smoke Monster in Lost.)  It is for that reason, in my opinion, that Trump left the room.  Trump thought he would teach them a lesson about what he expects when reporters are at events coordinated by him.

Trump is attempting to not only coral the press, but to pull them in line not just with his governmental policies but with his personality.  It can be seen in the way the press secretary treats the press at the daily briefings.  It can be seen the way Trump uses the media that support him.  It can be seen in the way Trump talks about “failing” newspapers, calls much of the press publishing fake news, or the personal attacks on specific reporters that he doesn’t like. 

In a recent Tweet, Trump asked the question, “Change libel laws?”  This was in context with a rant about the New York Times being a disgrace and that they have “Gotten me wrong for two solid years.”  This tweet was not about the President, a title of the office that anyone can hold if elected.  Not about governmental policy and not just about an opinion.  It was about him, Mr. Trump.  He used the word “me”.  Since the Times got “me” wrong for two solid years, he wants to change libel laws to allow him to sue (and jail?) the members of the press for having a different view point.

Let’s make a comparison here.  The NRA does not support anyone that uses a gun to kill innocent people.  (They should take a stronger position on that, but, that is another blog.)  But, every time a mass shooting happens, they stand in support of the Second Amendment.  Additionally, politicians that support gun rights also stand and support a right enshrined in the Constitution and it should not be violated.  During the Presidential election, Trump also support the Second Amendment.  

But, as soon as President Trump is attacked in the press (no one gets killed by the way and is still alive to present their point of view) instead of standing in support of an amendment to the Constitution that came before the gun rights, he wants to change the laws to allow him to sue, punish (and jail?). 

None of this has anything to do with the real issues that are facing our community right now.  Trump may have different opinions from this blogger, but that is part of the benefit of living in a diverse community.  But, when a person in authority is attempting to shut down the vehicle of communicating those diverse opinions and openly discussing the various viewpoints, it short cuts the benefits.   

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Balance of Rights and Responsibilities Leads Us to the Truth

The basic concept of the Responsible Community is balance.  Rights are balanced with responsibility.

Two things over the last few days have driven this point home.  The first was the very high profile Tweet from President Donald Trump.  President Trump said that President Barack Obama tapped the phones of his home in the Trump Tower.   Trump said this happened during the campaign for president.

The is a powerful accusation.  It echoes President Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election team when they broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee.  This accusation has been received by both sides dramatically.  The pro Trump group saw it as the truth because they believe President Obama could do such a thing.  The other side is as equally aghast because they know President 
Obama could not do such a thing. 

How are the two sides to be reconciled in a Responsible Community?  By President Trump laying out the evidence that lead him to make the accusation.  President Trump can then deliver the evidence to the Department of Justice to investigate the matter.  After all, President Trump could be right (oh, keep reading liberal friends).  President Obama could have been consumed with power and wanted to help Hillary Clinton.  Or, he could have done it as a sign-off on an investigation by the Department of Justice.  (Remember, the phones of world leaders were tapped by the United States and leaked by WikiLeaks.)

Come forward with more evidence President Trump so your accusations may be evaluated.

The second event that brings the issue of balance to the forefront is much more difficult to find answers to in today’s America, but shouldn’t be.  Khizr Khan, the father of the Captain Humayun Khan who was killed during the Iraq war in 2004, claims his travel privileges are under review by the United States even though he has been an American citizen for 30 years, per reports.  He was to travel to Toronto, Canada to give speech but had to cancel because of the travel review.

Mr. Khan needs to come forward with the events and names of people that have contacted him about the travel review.  The U. S. Customs and Border Protection officials have said that they can’t comment on the issue due to privacy rights.  But, the officials did appear to dispute the report when asked by Politico.  CBP told Politico that travelers are not contacted in advance when leaving the country but must present documents on returning that they should be allow in. (This story is worth watching.  If Khan’s travel is under review and CBP is not investigating, then who is?  Even a more important reason Khan must provide more information.)

If Mr. Khan is indeed under review, evidence must become public.  In this case, if Mr. Khan doesn’t release information about his travel problems, the CBP will not be able to release any information without pressing charges because of privacy issues.  The evidence would then come to light.  (That is, of course, if due process is followed.)

Since the CBP is not likely to release, Mr. Khan needs to release information so your accusations may be evaluated.    

There is the issue.  President Trumps’ accusations about President Obama and Mr. Khan’s accusations about his travel review need to be supported with evidence.  Making accusations in a free and open society is a right we all have.  But, we must be responsible in exercising those rights and support those accusations with evidence. 

We must have balance between rights and responsibilities to find the truth.  Both must release more information.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Classic Economics doesn’t work anymore because a few big players are on the verge of taking control of the markets.  Now, they are planning to take over your government.

The theory of classic economics is that markets work best when they work on their own without influence from the government.  As something goes askew in the market, they correct themselves.  As an example, if too much consolidation of capital takes place, small independent startup companies move in and either take a share of the market or create their own. 

This is the natural way of redistributing income and assets, keeping everything in balance. 

That assumes a set of conditions that allow the markets to respond fluidly and make adjustments necessary to keep things in balance.  One of the conditions is that there are many small players in the market all acting independently.  With many small independent players, no one player can control the entire market. 

Now three things are happening. 

Monopolistic size players, the top 1% of the United States population, are holding a larger share of the private assets and taking a greater share of earnings since the country was created. (2)  In 2007 they held about 35% of the nation’s private assets. (3)  Some sources say the percent held by the top 1% is even greater. (4)  At the current course, the top 1% will own about half of all private assets in just a few years. (3)  Additionally, the top 1% are banking about 25% of all earnings in American, compared to only 9% 25 years ago. (3)  As model of good capitalism, taking 9% of the total earnings doesn’t place the wealthiest people in a controlling position.  At 35%, they are now closing in on controlling the market.

The natural balancing force for the market is showing signs of failure due to the controlling factors of the top 1%.  As stated before, new business startups help keep the accumulation of wealth in check.  As markets grow, new businesses develop.  They begin to pull some of the share of the market away from the larger business. This creates a natural sharing and redistribution of the wealth.

But, if startup growth slows, the large players will continue to grow because of the lack of balance.  To illustrate this point, there has been a thirty-year decline of startup growth.  (This has been happening through Republican and Democrat administrations.)  In 2010 there were about 2.3 million jobs created in the U.S. by startup companies.  For a population of about 308 million, that is about 7.4 jobs per thousand people.  That sounds good until you compared to 1986 when 3 million jobs were created for a population of 240 million.  That equates to 12.5 jobs per thousand people.  That is a drop of about 60% of jobs per thousand people over the decades.

Less startups are creating less jobs for more people.  That is not enough to balance the markets and keep wealth evenly divided.

Finally, the top 1% have created their own “Collective Defense Monopoly” [author’s term] and are now “investing” in the political process to preserve their position.  Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money, states that many of the wealthiest individuals in America are working directly with the Koch brothers and many of their lobby groups to pressure congress and now President Trump to develop legislation that will preserve their wealth and power.  The “investors” have a war chest of approaching $1 billion dollars (or more) to help their cause. (3)  The New York Times reports that Koch spent over $800 million on this last election alone.

Is it getting a return on investment?  It put Trump in the White House and took control of both the House and the Senate.  Additionally, of President Trump’s advisors and cabinet positions are filled with people working closely with the Koch brothers and their many organizations. (A follow up blog that is being researched right now will detail the people working with Trump originate from the Koch brothers and the organizations they support.)

To fight this there are some practical things that can be done.  We as consumers must seek out small businesses in every corner of the market and purchase products and services created locally by small businesses. This will begin to build the assets of small businesses, encourage startups to entire the market and keep dollars in communities that are now being decimated by large corporations.

But, on the government level, we must also develop business policies and systems that create a balance of power in the markets just like America has in government.  We praise at every turn the American system of government that have three branches.  Each branch checks the power of the others and prevents one from dominating.  Then why do we decry the creation of the same kind of controlling forces in business?  We need checks and balances that prevent one business, or in this case, a collective, from dominating the market.  The Dodd Frank act was one way of adding some checks and balances.  But, it is being cancelled by Trump’s executive orders. 

Finally, there needs to be a way to prevent money from dominating politics.  The Koch brothers and their friends through their “Collective Defense Monopoly” raised more than a billion dollars to influence the outcome of the last election. (3) (7) This group of investors only has about 300 members. (7)  That means that each member invested over $3,000,000 each. 

The total money raised for the election for 2016 is estimated to have been about 6.9 billion. (7)  The billion dollars the Collective Defense raised represents 16% of the total money spent on the election.  In perspective, the total population of the United States is about 323,000,000.  That means on average each person in the country spent only $21. 
The Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech.  But speech, in elections, is not free.  It costs money to get the attention of candidates.

How much attention can $21 get compared to $3,000,000?  That isn’t one person, one vote.

(1) Population growth in the United States last 100 years -
(2) U.S. Income Inequality: It’s Worse Today Than It Was In 1774 -
(3) Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right – Jane Mayer, 
(4) How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans        -
(5)  The 30-Year Decline of American Entrepreneurship - The Atlantic -
(6)  Cost of the election from Open Secrets - 
How much did Koch spend on 2016 elections -