Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sen. John Danforth Editorial: "The Real Reason Trump is Not a Republican"

Former Missouri Senator John Danforth penned a letter to the editor in the Washington Post a few days ago.  It should be mandatory reading for those conservatives who are willing to throw away everything we fought for over the years to blindly support a President who was only a few years ago was a liberal Democrat and who is currently a RINO who doesn't support traditional Republican values.  

Here is the letter to the editor:

The real reason Trump is not a Republican
Former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO)
Many have said that President Trump isn’t a Republican. They are correct, but for a reason more fundamental than those usually given.... The fundamental reason Trump isn’t a Republican is far bigger than words or policies. He stands in opposition to the founding principle of our party — that of a united country.
The Republican Party has a long history of standing for a united country. Theodore Roosevelt raised up the ordinary people of his day and championed their cause against abusive trusts. Dwight Eisenhower used the army to integrate a Little Rock high school. George H.W. Bush signed the most important civil rights legislation in more than a quarter-century, a bill authored by Republican senators. George W. Bush stood before Congress and the nation and defended Muslims after 9/11. Our record hasn’t been perfect. When we have pushed the agenda of the Christian right, we have seemed to exclude people who don’t share our religious beliefs. We have seemed unfriendly to gay Americans. But our long history has been to uphold the dignity of all of God’s people and to build a country welcoming to all.
Now comes Trump, who is exactly what Republicans are not, who is exactly what we have opposed in our 160-year history. We are the party of the Union, and he is the most divisive president in our history. There hasn’t been a more divisive person in national politics since George Wallace.
It isn’t a matter of occasional asides, or indiscreet slips of the tongue uttered at unguarded moments. Trump is always eager to tell people that they don’t belong here, whether it’s Mexicans, Muslims, transgender people or another group. His message is, “You are not one of us,” the opposite of “e pluribus unum.” And when he has the opportunity to unite Americans, to inspire us, to call out the most hateful among us, the KKK and the neo-Nazis, he refuses.
To my fellow Republicans: We cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party. That is what he is doing, as long as we give the impression by our silence that his words are our words and his actions are our actions. We cannot allow that impression to go unchallenged.
As has been true since our beginning, we Republicans are the party of Lincoln, the party of the Union. We believe in our founding principle. We are proud of our illustrious history. We believe that we are an essential part of present-day American politics. Our country needs a responsibly conservative party. But our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and it is now in peril.
In honor of our past and in belief in our future, for the sake of our party and our nation, we Republicans must disassociate ourselves from Trump by expressing our opposition to his divisive tactics and by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Berkeley Mayor Wants to Cancel Conservative Free Speech Rally Because of Possible Violence by Left-Wing Groups

In 1964, Berkeley, California was home to the free speech movement.  Left-wing college students on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.  

Sunday, some 53 years after the free speech movement, liberals on the UC Berkeley campus are again 
protesting on the issue of free speech, but this time they are on the other side trying to shut down, violently, conservative speech with which they disagree.  

CBS news reports:
Black-clad anarchists on Sunday stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least five people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco amid fears of violence. 

The group of more than 100 hooded protesters, with shields emblazoned with the words "no hate" and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchists, busted through police lines, avoiding security checks by officers to take away possible weapons. Then the anarchists blended with a crowd of 2,000 largely peaceful protesters who turned up to demonstrate in a "Rally Against Hate" opposed to a much smaller gathering of right-wing protesters.
Among those assaulted was Joey Gibson, the leader of the Patriot Prayer group, which canceled a Saturday rally and was then prevented from holding a news conference when authorities closed off the public square Gibson planned to use. Gibson has denounced racism and said he launched Patriot Prayer after several supporters of President Donald Trump were beaten at a Trump campaign stop in San Jose, California, last year. Authorities nonetheless feared the group's event could attract white nationalists, as it has in the past. 
After the anarchists spotted Gibson at the Berkeley park, they pepper-sprayed him and chased him out as he backed away with his hands held in the air. Gibson rushed behind a line of police wearing riot gear, who set off a smoke bomb to drive away the anarchists.Separately, groups of hooded, black-clad protesters attacked at least four other men in or near the park, kicking and punching them until the assaults were stopped by police. The assaults were witnessed by an Associated Press reporter.
Now Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin is requesting UC Berkeley to stop another conservative free speech rally planned for next month.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports:   
“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists. 
“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.” 
The mayor wants UC Berkeley to halt plans by a conservative campus group, the Berkeley Patriot, to host right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos during its scheduled Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27. Berkeley’s right-vs.-left cage matches began with an appearance that Yiannopoulos was to have made in February at a campus hall, an event that was aborted when black-clad anarchists like those who broke up Sunday’s downtown rally stormed into Sproul Plaza, smashed windows and set bonfires.
In short, Mayor Arreguin wants to blame conservatives and silence their speech because some liberals are illegally reacting with violence because they don't agree with that speech.  

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Contempt for the Constitution and His Abuse of Power Make Him No Conservative Hero

Friday night, as the worst hurricane in 12 years was hitting the coast of the United States, President Donald Trump, issued a highly controversial pardon of former Maricopa (Phoenix) County Sheriff Arpaio.  Arpaio, who liked to bill himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," had been convicted of willfully violating a federal judge's order to cease his office's practice of racially profiling Latinos. Many on the right celebrate that Sheriff Arpaio was enforcing the immigration law that the feds refused to enforce.  If that were all he were doing then Sheriff Arpaio he would be a much more sympathetic figure.  Instead, in the process of enforcing immigration law, Sheriff Arpaio trampled the U.S. Constitution under his feet, engaging in the worst sort of racial profiling.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
But it just wasn't Arpaio's racial profiling of Latinos in Maricopa County.  He also ran jails that fell far short of constitutional standards.  One of those jails was an outdoor facility known as "Tent City" which harbored inmates in temperatures in excess of 130 degrees during the summer and as low as 41 degrees in the winter.  He cut back jail inmates to two meals a day, with one of those meals sometimes being green bologna.  Inmates were often denied healthcare and adequate sanitation facilities.  They were made to wear pink underwear and socks.

A 2015 investigation by the Phoenix New Times showed that of the 157 who died in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails, 24% of the deaths were identified as suicides.  The second highest jail suicide rate was 14 percent in Philadelphia jails over a comparable period.    In addition, the cause of 73 deaths was listed as unknown by county authorities. The lawsuits over the deaths in Joe Arpaio's jails cost Maricopa County $140 million.

People, naturally do not have a lot of sympathy for criminals.  But Sheriff Arpaio ran a JAIL not a prison.  Most people in jail are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted.   Prisons, on the other hand, are occupied by prisoners who have been convicted of crimes, usually felonies.   Sheriff Arpaio was using his jail to punish people for simply being accused of a crime.  The Constitution does not allow for that.

At the same time Sheriff Arpaio was expending enormous resources to target Latinos and settle lawsuits, he was failing to adequately investigate hundreds of sex crimes committed in Maricopa County.   During a three year period ending in 2007, it was alleged that more than 400 sex crimes reported to Arpaio’s office, most from El Mirage, a suburb of Phoenix with a large immigrant population, were inadequately investigated or not investigated at all.  Those cases included 32 reported offenses against children.  In 2015, Maricopa County officials settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit in which it was claimed Sheriff Arpaio had failed to properly investigate the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

When any politician dared cross Sheriff Arpaio they often became a target of a criminal investigation launched by Sheriff Arpaio.  In 2004, Dan Saban announced he would run against Arpaio in the Republican primary. Arpaio responded by opening a criminal investigation into a 30-year-old allegation that Saban, then 17, had raped his adoptive mother. Saban claimed he was the victim and relatives backed him up.  Of course, it didn't matter because the statute of limitations had long since run out and the case was dismissed.  But the slander worked to ensure Arpaio the nomination.

Between 2008 and 2010, Arapaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas began a number of government corruption investigations targeting Arpaio's political opponents, including judges, county supervisors and administrators. Several criminal charges ended up being filed against the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as well as four judges and attorneys who worked with the county.  A grand jury, however, declined to indict any of the defendants.  Over 11 of the individuals targeted by Arpaio and Thomas' criminal investigations filed lawsuits, costing taxpayers millions of dollars to settle.

The episode resulted in Thomas being disbarred by a disciplinary panel of the Arizona Supreme Court which found that he "outrageously exploited power, flagrantly fostered fear, and disgracefully misused the law." The panel found "clear and convincing evidence" that Thomas brought unfounded and malicious criminal and civil charges against political opponents, including four state judges and the Arizona Attorney General.  "Were this a criminal case," the panel concluded, "we are confident that the evidence would establish this conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt."  It takes at least two people for a "conspiracy," and that not-named conspirator in abusing political power was none other that Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In his over two decades of being Maricopa Sheriff, Arpaio showed himself to be a bully, a two bit thug no better than many of the people his officers were arresting.  Arpaio targeted people because of their skin color, in violation of the Constitution and court orders.   When political opponents government officials crossed him,, Arpaio abused his powers making them a target for criminal investigation.  In short, "America's Toughest Sheriff" thought he was above the law and the Constitution he swore to uphold as Maricopa County Sheriff.  I wish I could say Sheriff Arpaio learned otherwise. Unfortunately, Sheriff Arpaio had a kindred spirit in the White House, another man who fancies himself as being above the law, a man who was more than willing to give him a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, i.e. a pardon.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trump, Not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Deserves Major Share of Blame for Legislative Failures

Today's bullying target of the President Donald Trump was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.   In a tweet sent this afternoon, Trump told McConnell he needs to "get back to work" and pass Repeal and Replace, tax reform and an infrastructure bill.
This Trump tweet came at the start of Trump's 17 day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort.   Of
course, rank hypocrisy has never seemed to slow Trump down.

This morning Trump had another anti-McConnell tweet:
And yesterday, Trump took something McConnell said out of context (ad he does frequently) to tweet:
The New York Times tonight reported on another blast at McConnell:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday sharply amplified his criticism of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, raising the possibility that Mr. McConnell should relinquish his position if he cannot deliver on top legislative priorities.
After venting for days, on Twitter and in private, over the Senate’s failure to pass a health care repeal bill before the August recess, Mr. Trump was asked if Mr. McConnell should consider stepping down.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mr. Trump began, speaking to reporters outside his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., “if he doesn’t get repeal and replace done and if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure — if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.”
I am no fan of Mitch McConnell.  As far as congressional Republicans go, they deserve blame for making a promise to the American public about repealing and replacing Obamcare and then, when it turned out they could actually do just the GOP surprisingly winning the White House in 2016, they backed down.

But the lion's share of the blame for Trump's legislative agenda  belong Donald J. Trump. Take the healthcare bill for example.  Trump has steadfastly refused to get informed about the issues, made petty and pathetically weak attempts to threaten GOP legislators who wouldn't support his position, and then when the Republicans did support in the House, Trump cut them off at their knees declaring the bill he demanded be passed was mean.

When the bill reached the Senate floor, Trump once again refused to get informed about the bill, refused to try to sell the legislation to the public and made yet more petty threats against members of his own party.  Trump provided zero leadership on the issue while instead spending his time tweeting about personal grievances that distracted from the work members of Congress were attempting to do.

Oh, and the rest of Trump's legislative agenda?  Trump's tax reform proposal consists of one page of bullet points and his infrastructure plan doesn't exist. But yet Trump is demanding McConnell act, now!

If Donald Trump wants to know who is responsible for his legislative and his many other failures as President, he needs to only look in a mirror.

Monday, August 7, 2017

IndyGo to Use Eminent Domain Against College Avenue Property Owners

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports on the development:
A court battle is escalating between IndyGo and property owners along the proposed Red Line route fighting to protect their land from becoming part of the rapid-transit bus system.
Proposed Red-Line Station Near Moe & Johnny's.
The first phase of the Red Line would run 13 miles, stretching from East 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis on the south side, and would include infrastructure improvements spilling onto the properties.
IndyGo so far has settled with 11 owners along the route by paying them amounts ranging from $500 to $90,800—moves that will allow it to gain either temporary or permanent use of slivers of no more than one-tenth of an acre of each owner’s land.
But nine property owners are holding out, prompting IndyGo last month to sue each individually. In the suits, IndyGo seeks to exercise its power of eminent domain, with the purchase price for parcels to be determined via independent appraisals. 
IndyGo’s legal maneuvering isn’t sitting well with business owners such as Chuck Mack, longtime operator of Meridian-Kessler staple Moe & Johnny’s at 5380 N. College Ave.
IndyGo sued Mack after he refused an $815 offer for a portion of his parking lot needed to install a sidewalk wheelchair ramp and extend a curb.
“The net effect is way beyond the ludicrous $800 they offered for the inconvenience of losing our easement,” Mack scoffed.
Mack, who has owned Moe & Johnny’s for 23 years, says he’ll lose 20 percent of his parking, in addition to access to his lot from College Avenue, forcing patrons to use 54th Street.
Colleen Fanning, the city-county councilor who represents the area along College, didn’t return phone calls from IBJ seeking comment on the business owners’ concerns.
But on her website, she praises the Red Line project while acknowledging the differences in opinion she has with her longtime friend Mack at Moe & Johnny’s.
“I am a staunch supporter of the Red Line and believe this valuable infrastructure will positively impact the future of our neighborhood and city,” she wrote.
Any one who regularly travels College Avenue from downtown to Broad Ripple knows what a congested mess the route is.   Eliminating travel lanes and parking from the street is just going to make the situation worse.  Keystone Avenue, a much wider street, is a far better location for the line. Unfortunately, in an eminent domain case you can't challenge whether the project is a good idea or if a better option exists. You can only challenge whether the taking is for a public purpose, which issue IndyGo will win easy.  Once that hurdle is clear, the only issue is the amount of compensation.  Moe & Johnny's is probably smart to hold out.  I've done a number of eminent domain cases and I don't think I have ever seen a case where a person settled post-litigation (or received a judgment from a jury) which figure was less than that offered prior to litigation.  

Sadly, the Indianapolis City-County Councilor Colleen Fanning is in the tank for those who will profit off the Red Line at the expense of those who live in the Broad Ripple area.  It is unfortunate that Broad Ripple in recent years hasn't had better representation on the Council.  This is the third Republican councilor in a row who was all about helping developers make a buck instead of doing what is best for local residents and business owners.  Broad Ripple deserves better.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pete Rose Defamation Suit Demonstrates the Problem With Defamation Suits

On Monday, July 31st, former Cincinnati Reds great filed a defamation suit in a federal court in Pennsylvania.  ESPN reports on the development:
Pete Rose filed a federal defamation lawsuit today against John Dowd, who oversaw the investigation that led to Rose's ban from baseball, for claims Dowd made last summer that Rose had underage girls delivered to him at spring training and that he committed statutory rape.   
The complaint was filed today in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. It cites a radio interview last summer with a station in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in which Dowd said
, "Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but ran young girls down at spring training, ages 12 to 14. Isn't that lovely? So that's statutory rape every time you do that."   
Bertolini was a memorabilia merchant whose taped conversations and other information about Rose's gambling were central to Rose receiving a permanent ban in 1989.   
The lawsuit also cites an interview with CBS Radio in which Dowd said, "He has Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction, so you know he's just not worthy of consideration or to be part of the game. This is not what we want to be in the game of baseball."
At the time of the interviews last summer, commissioner Rob Manfred was considering Rose's request for reinstatement. Dowd had appeared on the shows to discuss that topic, and to talk about whether Rose should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Manfred ultimately denied Rose's request. 
According to the suit, "Ever since Dowd investigated Rose in 1989 and Rose was placed on the Ineligible List, Dowd actively sought to prevent Rose from ever being reinstated by MLB or elected to the Hall of Fame, and he ultimately made maliciously false and reckless claims against Rose."
By way of background, there are certain statements that people can make that are considered "defamation per se," i.e. statements that are considered so damaging to one's reputation that damages will be assumed.   Usually a plaintiff proving actual damages in defamation cases is a huge obstacle.  When a statement is considered "defamation per se" that obstacle is removed.

Accusing someone of crime is defamation per se.  Attorneys know this.   We are generally very careful about accusing people of a crime when that crime has never been charged.  We are taught to use qualifying conditional terms such "alleged," "accused of" when treading into an area of alleging someone, who has never been charged, committed a crime.

John Dowd is an attorney and in fact is currently part of the Trump legal team .  That he would make a statement on a radio show that Rose committed "statutory rape," when Rose has never been charged with any such crime, is reckless.   I can only assume that Dowd's obvious blind hatred of Rose overrode his legal brain when he made such a dumb statement on the radio show.

Unfortunately, for Rose his lawsuit demonstrates the problem with celebrities who file defamation suits...they end up publicizing the very thing they didn't want published in the first place   How did Dowd respond to the Rose lawsuit?  On the same day the Rose lawsuit was filed, Dowd filed a motion (I am not sure what "motion" you'd file at this point of the proceedings), which claims Rose Rose is a womanizer who regularly had sex with teenagers.  In the motion:
Dowd is asking the court to force Rose to answer questions about his sexual relationships, his history of lying and his mental health. Dowd says Rose has, by and large, refused to respond.
"If Rose did not want to answer questions about having sex with teenagers, his well-documented history of lying, or his mental health, he should not have filed this lawsuit," Dowd's motion said.
I am not sure why such a motion would be filed before owd even filed an answer to the complaint mind you. Obviously whether the accusations are true, i.e. that Rose had sex with underage women, is a defense Dowd can assert.  He wouldn't have to file a motion to force Rose to answer questions on that subject.  Undoubtedly Rose's attorney has told him that his sexual history is fair game if he files the lawsuit.  Dowd's filing of the "motion" seems to be nothing more than an attempt to get the media story to be about Rose is a child molester instead of Dowd being a defamer.

Of course now that he's in the middle of a lawsuit, Dowd can make his Rose is a "sexual molester" claims with legal protection. The news media have already picked up on those claims.  Many people on social media are declaring Rose is a pedophile, even though no jurisdiction found the evidence compelling enough to charge Rose with anything and the supposed sexual trysts are some 40 years old.  So much for people being presumed innocent.

And that, folks, is the problem with defamation suits.  You end up publicizing the very thing you didn't want publicized.