Sunday, June 06, 2021
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Politics often runs with common themes and debates, such as the lead-up to a big vote. One big story dominates the news cycle. But then we have weeks like this past one, that are seemingly all over the map with a hodge-podge of unrelated but interesting items. It is more of a political “buffet” so, let’s “brunch” on that this week.
“Twitter Tweaks Trump!” – If you have read my columns in recent weeks, I am not a big fan of social media platforms, such as Twitter, banning people as it did with former President Donald Trump. Yes, these are private businesses, and they have the right to decide who can join and who gets dumped. It is not a classic free speech issue, but it is, as I have coined it, “soft censorship.” I am a great believer in the town square and letting anyone who wants to, speak. I view social media the same way. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas, so let folks share them. I trust voters to sort the good from the bad.
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“Facebook Fires Trump!” — Well, as former President Ronald Reagan used to say, “There you go again!” This past week, Facebook jumped in and banned Trump for two years. The company says Trump used Facebook to encourage the January 6 Capitol insurrection. “We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest,” the company said in a statement. “If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.” Trump will not be reinstated until after the 2022 midterm election, a major blow to his voice.
“Is there a Difference?” – I believe yes. If you use the platform to advocate for building a border wall, then that is you stating your position on a political issue, and free speech allows you to do that. But there is that old line, “You can’t shout fire in a crowded theater!” Courts have drawn the line at public safety. If you falsely shout “fire,” and people get hurt by being trampled, then you may have legal problems and liability. At the very least a criminal charge of disorderly conduct comes to mind, as do civil lawsuits for pain and suffering. There are consequences to encouraging violence, and methinks that is what Facebook is saying.
“The Trump Response?” – Late Friday Team Trump responded on its new social media platform and in email blasts promoting it. “It’s official. Big Tech Liberals just issued it’s (sic) final verdict to silence President Trump for years. It’s no accident that he could be reinstated… but only AFTER the most consequential mid-term election in American history!” It then requests donations between $35 and $500 to join the platform.
“Pence v. Trump” – You must wonder if former President Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence are on a collision course. Pence, who is thinking about running for the presidential nomination against Trump and others in 2024, had this to say Thursday night in a New Hampshire speech: “January 6 was a dark day in the history of our U.S. Capitol,” Pence said. “That same day we reconvened the Congress and did our duty. You know, President Trump and I have spoken several times since we left office and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day.” Pence was there to help certify the Electoral College vote, and nearly got entangled in the violence. For these two to have a major falling out could sharply divide their party.
“Matt Gaetz to the Jail Gates?” – I have not been following the investigation into the alleged lurid behavior of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) Florida much, but that all changed this week. Gaetz’s close friend and confidant, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to six of the 33 federal criminal charges filed against him. Among the most serious charges is Sex Trafficking a Child. This involves Greenberg allegedly procuring a 17-year-old girl to have sex with Gaetz. Another count accuses Submission of a False Claim, where Greenberg allegedly received $430,000 in COVID relief funds for two companies that were defunct. The speculation is Greenberg stuck a deal to testify against Congressmen Gaetz if he is indicted. Stay tuned!
“For the People Act is in Trouble” – The federal bill to reform elections, including some at the state level, is in trouble. Democrats need all 50 of their caucus too support it, but so far moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia has not signed on. Not only that, Democrats need 10 Republicans on board so they could block a filibuster. That does not look promising either. Manchin says he would rather support reforms proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Perhaps Democrats could get all 50 votes there. Many Republicans feel For the People is an overreach on state’s rights to conduct their own elections. Some bills die because there are enough votes to defeat them while other bills (like these), may die for lack of support.
“Why Are Some Capitol Rioters Getting Plea Bargains?” – With 460 people facing criminal charges stemming from the Capitol insurrection, I understand there is the need to exact justice efficiently. People are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial, but that many cases can bog down an already overloaded system, so plea bargains can be used to expedite things. But three men who are clearly seen on TV and police body cameras attacking Washington, DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, are being offered pleas deals. Why? They are easily identified, and are seen beating Officer Fanone with a flagpole, tasing him with his own taser, and stealing his gun. Fanone suffered a heart attack and went unconscious. To me, prosecutors ought to throw the book at these three men for attempted murder, not cut them a deal!
What are your thoughts on the latest political headlines? Just click the comment button! I am especially wanting to hear about a potential Trump-Pence feud.
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Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and all of the Washington, DC media market. He is a MINDSETTER™ political columnist for www.GoLocalProv.com and all its affiliates.
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