Category Archives: Politics

The Bias Construct

Recent public conversations about the political nature of Supreme Court appointments, has surfaced again. No matter who is proposed, if they’ve lived, worked, met, and offered numerous legal opinions, any nominee is going to have opinions on key issues of their day.

Supreme-court-building-sml

United States Supreme Court Building

Such confusion and double-talk exists in our public-politic, it’s amazing that anyone can be appointed. In a recent public speaking engagement at University of California, Berkeley, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had this to say.

“I’m saddened to see that many people have lost confidence in judges and believe they are political.”

Sotomayor made the comments while taking questions from law students. The school’s interim law school dean, Melissa Murray, served as Sotomayor’s clerk when the justice was a federal appellate court judge.

Sotomayor said judges try to be fair and impartial and don’t have rigid beliefs they apply to every case. She encouraged people to view judges as “human beings who care deeply about what we’re doing.”

This is an interesting response, considering her words elsewhere.

Sotomayor, spoke at the University of Minnesota on October 19, 2016, commenting that the Supreme Court was designed to have nine justices so it can break ties on difficult cases.

“We try to come to decision-making as best as we can,” she said. “Where we can find a very, very narrow way of deciding a case, we use it.”

Sotomayor compared Scalia’s death to the loss of a family member despite their differences.

“There are things he’s said on the bench where if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it,” she said.

Enter the new nominee Neil Gorsuch. There’s a leading headline in Rueters describing, “ideological balance at stake in confirmation fight” . Of course the usual politicos, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, are leading the opposition to his appointment along ideological lines. The Rueters article describes some of the opposition rational as to why he shouldn’t be appointed.

It’s a good thing Supreme Court judges are fair and impartial and don’t have rigid beliefs.

neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-nominee-2

Neil Gorsuch – Supreme Court nominee

What is Freedom?

I’ve recently offered my opinion through social media on the vagaries and alignment of two sides on an issue which should be fundamentally understood by all. That issue is “Freedom of the Press.” Some people wish to try on their hip waders and defend their position on the basis of the Constitution. Very well, let’s take a moment and see how well we understand the first amendment. Keep in mind this one thing above all, if one-side of the political system adopts this position, what would prevent the next party to do the same, once they’re in office?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

donald_trump_explaining_his_positionsPlace this in context with the position our President, Donald Trump, has taken with regard to some of those who represent the press. No other modern president has taken such a hostile position and altered policy to reflect such a position.

“WASHINGTON — Journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions.”

This constant claim that news organizations present false information, “fake news”, isn’t the responsibility of the President, it is ours. If we see, read, or listen to news that doesn’t align with the facts or misrepresents a statement made by others, it’s our duty to ignore or challenge this information.

constitution-page-portion

Click on this image for background

The framers of the Constitution never intended to limit access, or control the message, anymore than they placed limitations on the type of firearms people are allowed to own, in the second amendment. This is how the Constitution functions best.

Placing limitations on freedom creates more harm than good. We don’t need a President to be our filter on the news. It’s up to us to access any and all information, and for those hired to do the work of journalist, to do this work to the best of their ability. When they fail, they fail us, but their bad or biased work shouldn’t qualify how the Constitution is implemented.

George Orwell seeing in front of our noseSo ask yourself, if this is an action you support by President Trump, would you support this same action by a Democrat President? Freedom isn’t a gift bestowed on us by a benevolent government, it’s our inalienable right. I believed that over four decades ago when I signed up for the Marine Corps. I still believe it needs defending today.


 

Transfer of Symbols of Power

Today marks another passing of the torch in the United States. The 45th president, for the 58th time, the inauguration of a President takes place. It’s a great day for fanfare and celebration, but not for some. To many people, they aren’t happy about this new President. They openly hope the man falls flat on his face. A desire that would be the furthest from their mind if only their person of choice was elected.

trump_sworn_45th_president_2017

President Donald J. Trump Inauguration 2017

The concern each of us as citizens should have is how much we can do to be of benefit to each other, not how badly we can make things, because our person or party didn’t win. The future requires more cooperation, more finding solutions, and less ways to blame the other person or party.

vp_president_outgoingNo matter what your perspective has been on the Obama Presidency, it should be obvious that he left in a better standing than either George Bush or William Clinton. A high approval rating isn’t  a rubber stamp, but it suggests there was enough political influence to negotiate and make things happen. This isn’t where Donald Trump starts. His approval ratings are significantly lower, even though he’s just been installed.

The Republican party is in a strong position to get things done. It holds majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and now the Executive branch. None the less, the Democrats have an opportunity to take the high ground and find ways to work with the Republicans.

Here’s the biggest challenge to make the transfer of power meaningful and beneficial, can we as a people find ways to minimize our differences and work together? I look at a large number of prominent individuals, and there’s certainly a mix of feelings. For some of them, it almost reads like rebels looking for a cause to show how much they matter.

What really should matter, is the alarming way we’ve ignored the 800 pound gorilla. That’s the national debt. There’s been a lot of talk about it, but reversing it, will be painful, no one wants to give up some of that public largess in order to fix this monster.

debt_chart-obama-3

We may not be bankrupt yet, but this reality is looming larger than ever. If this debt level isn’t reduced, all of the other priorities we think are important will seem pointless.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 124,248,000 people in the United States with full-time jobs in December. The total federal debt of $19,961,467,137,973 equals approximately $160,658 for each one of those workers.

donald_trump_photo_2

President Trump takes office 2017

We’re going to see things change, and I expect there will be a lot of people upset if it affects their special interest, project or cause. I’ve read quite a number of things which distort the positions Trump has officially advocated.

Today’s inaugural speech identified his focus was less on institutional authority and more on the needs of the people. Of course promises from a podium mean very little. We will have to see if they become part of the executive push and legislative authorization.