Trump suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google is a publicity stunt, not a legal strategy

Some of you may have heard the exciting news that the former guy, #45, is suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Just so you all know, it’s a publicity stunt, not a legal strategy.

Here are all the reasons why the suit will go nowhere:

  1. Twitter, Facebook, and Google are private companies. The First Amendment doesn’t apply to them. It applies to government censorship.
  2. Trump had to agree to the Twitter, Facebook, and Google terms of conditions, just like you and me, when he signed up.
  3. Google didn’t “kick him off” anything. Apparently Trump just doesn’t like some of the search results.
  4. The famous “section 230” has nothing to do with whether Trump should be on Twitter or Facebook.
  5. If section 230 were to be repealed, it would actually force Twitter and Facebook to unload Trump so that they would not be liable, for example, for Trump’s defamation of the character of women who have accused him of sexual assault.  (See the lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
  6. And if that weren’t enough, under their terms and conditions, Trump has to sue Twitter, Facebook, and Google in federal court in California, whereas he filed suit in federal court in Florida.

But aided and abetted by Fox News and other right wing propaganda outlets, Trump’s acolytes will make his supporters believe that there is actually merit to this case.

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Bill Cosby’s release from prison was really all about Prosecutorial Misconduct

Yesterday came the surprising news that Bill Cosby’s conviction had been vacated and that he had been released from prison. That was a punch to the gut. Bill Cosby? I hadn’t thought about that dude in years. Cosby’s transformation from America’s Dad into a serial rapist was even more disheartening than Guiliani’s transformation from America’s Mayor into Trump’s worst attorney (and that’s saying something).

To provide some context for this discussion, Cosby has been accused by an extraordinary 62 women of various kinds of sexual assault and rape allegations, many of which fall in the “date rape” category. The first of these dates back to 1965, and the most recent of which dated to 2008 (so a more than 40 year career of bad behavior). However, most of these were not reported until 2014 when a lot of women who thought that they alone had been the victim of the beloved comedian and “America’s Dad” realized that they were part of a large group of women who had been similarly abused.

The problem for most of these women is that the various civil and criminal statutes of limitations that governed such actions in the various jurisdictions where they had taken place had expired a long time ago. (A statute of limitations basically provides that an action needs to be brought within a specific number of years, — often three, four or five years — from when the injury occurred of from when the plaintiff should reasonably have known that an injury had occurred.)

Enter Andrea Constand, a former college and Canadian national team basketball player who claimed that back in 2004 Cosby had invited her to his house for a discussion of her career prospects, where he had drugged her and engaged in date rape. Constand was the only of his various victims who filed a civil case in a timely fashion and was able to extract a settlement from him. She was also the only one whose case was the basis of a criminal indictment and conviction.

This case, however, is not about the guilt or innocence of Bill Cosby. It is about prosecutorial misconduct.

What happened here in a nutshell is this:

  • Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor assured Cosby in 2005 that he would not be prosecuted relative to Andrea Constand’s claims. (Castor at the time did not think the evidence was sufficiently compelling to secure a conviction.)
  • Constand had previously filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby, and the agreement between Castor and Cosby prevented the comedian from invoking his 5th Amendment rights.
  • In civil depositions related to the Constand suit, Cosby made incriminating statements, which helped to lead to a $3.38 million settlement.
  • Castor left office in 2008, and was succeeded by Risa Vetri Ferman and, in 2016, Kevin R. Steele.
  • The first thing Steele did was file the sexual assault case against Cosby because the statute of limitations was running out.
  • Steele then used Cosby’s incriminating statements from the 2006 civil depositions to secure a conviction in 2018.
  • And that, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, said he could not do.

In effect, the Supreme Court of PA decided that Steele was bound by Castor’s agreement, and couldn’t prosecute Cosby where the comedian had already made incriminating statements in reliance on the agreement with Castor. The decision was not unanimous, and the dissents noted pointedly that Castor and Cosby never put their agreement in writing.

By the way, if the name “Bruce Castor” rings a bell, there is a reason for that. Bruce Castor, in case your wondering, is the same idiot who presented the defense for Donald Trump at his 2nd impeachment trial, at which he was mocked for his rambling and incoherent opening remarks.

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The Republicans have now had three bites at the Apple. Maye we can finally put this issue to bed.

It’s finally official: the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is constitutional.  The opponents of the ACA have now had three bites at the apple:

  1. National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012), in which the Supreme Court found constitutional the penalty provisions of the ACA as a part of the legitimate “taxing power” of the United States Congress.
  2. King v. Burwell, 576 U.S. 473 (2015), in which the Supreme Court held that the outlay of premium tax credits was constitutional both in those states with exchanges established directly by a state, and those where the exchanges were established by the federal government.
  3. California v. Texas, No. 19-840 (2021), in which the Supreme Court now holds that states like Texas did not have “standing” to bring their latest challenge to the ACA, which had to do with the taxing power of the Congress after the penalty for not having health insurance had been set to $0.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. Hardly anyone without a law degree understands it. It has to do with “federalism” and the commerce clause and what the federal government is allowed to do and what it has to cede to the states. It’s highly technical.

The point is that the opponents of the ACA have now taken every shot they can at it, including neutering the penalty provisions, and they haven’t succeeded.

The history is actually very similar to that of Social Security, which was also challenged back in 1937 as an unconstitutional exercise of the legislative powers of the Congress (see, for example, Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619 (1937) and Steward Machine Company v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548 (1937)). 

The Republicans have not yet introduced a legitimate alternative to the ACA because — as has been noted on many previous occasions — the “individual mandate” was their idea. It was their response to the Clinton health care proposals, and I guess that’s all they got. They shot their wad and never managed to reload.

In the meantime, needless to say, we’re still waiting for #45, the former guy, to unveil his “amazing” health care plan.

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Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about we just postpone the Olympics?

The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23 in Tokyo, and it seems to me that’s a big mistake.

One can understand the desire to get the Olympics done, since they’ve already been postponed for one year, but sometimes insisting on getting something in just doesn’t make any sense. Consider that in this case:

  • No foreign tourists will be allowed to attend the games (only Japanese audiences will be permitted).
  • Some 11,500 athletes and an estimated 79,000 journalists, officials and staff will travel to Japan, many of them unvaccinated.
  • Vaccines will be available, but not required.
  • Competitors from outside Japan must be tested for coronavirus twice, on different days, within 96 hours before their flights to Japan. 
  • Athletes will be tested again upon arrival.
  • Athletes will be required to quarantine for three days after they arrive.
  • Athletes will need to do daily reporting of their temperature and any symptoms via a smartphone app.
  • Athletes will be tested daily for the coronavirus via a rapid saliva antigen test.
  • Athletes can’t hug or high five.
  • At meal times, athletes are to keep two meters away from others, or eat by themselves.
  • Athletes cannot engage in tourist activities while in Japan.
  • Unless they’re eating, drinking, sleeping, training or competing, athletes are expected to be masked.
  • Foreign media will likely be monitored via GPS to ensure they don’t go to locations they’re not cleared to go.
  • Foreign  journalists could have their credentials stripped if they go to places they don’t report in advance.
  • And finally, 80% percent of Japanese don’t want the games to go forward.

Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about they postpone the Olympic games one more year until the world is actually ready to hold them, instead of putting on the charade of a set of games they’re planning to put on now!

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Diaper Don still thinks he will be “reinstated” in August.

Over the weekend Donald Trump came out of hiding and gave a 90 minute speech at the Annual State Convention for North Carolina Republicans, there was a lot made out of the fact that Trump looked like he was either (1) wearing his pants backwards or (2) wearing  adult diapers underneath his suit. The speculation reached such a fever pitch that Snopes had to weigh in and disprove that Trump was wearing his pants backwards. (They didn’t address the question of the adult diapers.)

Well, one can have a lot of fun with the Übermasculine Trump and whether he was wearing adult diapers, but what should be more concerning is that seven months and two days after the election, Trump is still making the same debunked claims about election fraud that he has been making since the day after the election. (You can read his entire rambling speechathon here.)

According to “insiders,” Diaper Don thinks he will be “reinstated” as a result of the phony partisan recounts in states like Arizona, even though there is no mechanism in our constitution for such a reinstatement.

Various commentators have speculated that Trump is going out of his mind because he is no longer President. I can easily imagine that to be true.

Trump is the most clinically extreme narcissist we have ever had in public life, and the Presidency is like a daily fix of heroin. 

  • A band plays when you enter a room (outside of the White House).
  • The media reports on your every word.
  • Everybody takes your phone call.
  • You can basically do what you want (like watch TV 8 hours a day) and no one can tell you not to.
  • You can’t even be prosecuted while you’re still in office.

I mean seriously, this is a narcissist’s permanent wet dream. Having commanded that level of attention, I’m sure it kills him every day that he’s stuck at Mar-a-Lago, and nobody (not even Melania) cares about what he does on a day-to-day basis.

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Joe Manchin is a man who clearly needs a giant Enema to loosen the legislative blockage.

Joe Manchin is a man who clearly needs a giant enema. There is a serious blockage that he needs to let go of.

Who is Joe Mancin you ask. Joe Manchin is the Senator from West Virginia, a Democrat (allegedly),  who stubbornly clings to the belief that the Republicans can be “reasoned with” in some kind of bipartisan way.

To support this belief Manchin stubbornly refuses to make any changes to the filibuster, even though the filibuster is clearly blocking the Democrats agenda, especially with respect to voting rights.

Texas is the third major state after Florida and Georgia attempting to enact major restrictions in voting rights. Like the other states, Texas is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist: fraud in the current voting systems. No, what Texas, Florida and Georgia have set up is the following merry-go-round:

  1. Support Donald Trump’s fantasy allegations that the election was stolen from him.
  2. Support of those allegations has led a majority of (only) Republicans to believe that the voting system is beset by fraud.
  3. Enact voter suppression laws to respond to Republican’s mistaken belief that the voting system is beset by fraud.

Democrats have introduced two major voting rights bills to combat the Republican effort at voter suppression: the “For the People” Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But Democrats have no chance of getting these enacted as long as the filibuster is in play.

Now, I’ve been clear that I think there is a risk in abolishing the filibuster outright, but we should at least go back to the “talking” filibuster, the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster, the Wendy Davis Texas filibuster, the Strom Thurmond 24-hour filibuster, the one where you have to put on your adult diapers, hydrate yourself, and then keep the floor without going to the bathroom, without drinking, without eating, or without engaging in any other bodily function. 

Joe Manchin has, in the past, claimed that he’s on board with going back to the old filibuster. Well, Joe, better get to it sooner rather than later, because time is a wasting, and we have a short legislative window to actually get anything done here. Get an enema Joe, so you can relieve that giant blockage in the legislative system.

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There is no point in trying to figure out why James Cassidy shot 8 of his co-workers

The search is on for the reasons that James Cassidy shot 8 of his colleagues at the San Diego VTA Rail Yard.

It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter.

We keep asking these questions as if the answers would mean something. They don’t mean something. Some shootings occur because the shooter is a hate-filled racist. Some occur as the consequence of a domestic situation. Some, like this one, are the outgrowth of Some occur for no reason that is ever discovered, such as the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 where James Paddock shot and killed 58 people and injured another 411.

Why did he do it?

Nobody fucking knows.

To this day. Four years later and still nobody fucking knows.

In this case here, two things have already made the news:

  1. Cassidy was retained in 2016 when he returned from the Philippines, and showed an unhealthy interest in terrorism and hatred of his coworkers (even though he was making about $114,000 at the VTA).
  2. Cassidy had in his possession 32 illegal high-capacity cartridges, even though his weapons were purchased legally.

But again, none of this matters.

What matters is that this country is just flooded with guns, and nobody is going to be “taking these guns away.”

At the same time,Texas is proposing to allow people to carry guns without a license.

Because, they don’t have stupid enough gun laws in Texas.

Some of you may wonder why we can’t predict who’s going to go nuts and who isn’t?

Because we can’t.

There simply is no clear dividing line between those who think about doing crazy things (which includes many of us) and those who actually do them (which is still very rare).

Here people will be making a big deal of the fact that this particular asshole filled a notebook with rants about how much he hated his coworkers, and that federal investigators asked him about that in 2016.

But that was in 2016. It took five years for him to do something about it, and the chances are good that he never would have, but for some trigger that we don’t know about.

And if they had warned the VTA, what would the VTA have done about it. You can’t fire someone for hating their co-workers, if they’re not harassing them.

No, the problem my friends is well known and has been for decades: we simply have far too many military-style assault weapons out there.

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What happens now with Roman Protasevich is going to be one to watch.

Imagine this scenario.

You’re 26 years old. You no longer live in your country because your country is being run by a fat ugly asshole who has been running your country for far too long, and you’ve been an activist since you’ve been a teenager. You’re a good enough activist that — like Malala Yousafzai — you’ve actually been able to make a difference. Using the Telegram Messenger service you’ve managed to help keep activists in your own country informed, enough so that some people are calling you a “journalist.”

You get invited to a conference in Athens to participate in, and you and your Russian girlfriend take the trip from Vilnius (where you currently live). You have a nice conference and board a Ryanair — which is a carrier based in Ireland — for the nice direct flight back to Vilnius. You are, in fact, almost back in Vilnius (but still just in Belarusian airspace, the country from which you have fled) when your plane is diverted on the false pretense of a bomb threat to Minsk (which is the capital of Belarus), where you are arrested.

You are 26 fucking years old!

Authoritarians, like the fat ugly asshole who has been running Belarus for 27 years, never worry to much about the legitimacy of their actions, but this time Mr. Asshole may have gone too far.

  • First of all, he hijacked the airliner of another country.
  • Secondly, he apparently violated the 1971 Montreal Convention.
  • Third, he guaranteed that the airlines of other countries would no longer fly into Belarus.
  • Fourth, economic sanctions are sure to follow.

Mr. Asshole still has Mr. Putin’s support, and Mr. Putin is probably kicking himself that he didn’t think of this first. But Mr. Putin does have to attend the G7 summit, and he does have to work with the European Union in a way that Mr. Asshole does not.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out. Like the January 6th Insurrection, Mr. Asshole crossed a very bright line here and there will be no forgive and forget.

And, he made Roman Protasevich internationally famous in an instant.

I’d never heard of him.

Had you?

But should anything happen to him now, the whole world will know who was responsible.

What happens when the European Union really brings all of their economic power to bear against Belarus?

Will it make a difference? 

I don’t know. 

Keep your eyes on this one, folks. This will be one to watch.

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New Florida “Deplatforming” Law demonstrates conclusively that conservatives no longer understand the meaning of the 1st Amendment

That a lot of right-wing conservatives don’t understand the 1st Amendment can be demonstrated most poetically by the legislation signed yesterday by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — an early favorite to replace “the former guy” as Asshole of the Year — which would penalise tech companies for “deplatforming” politicians.

Oh boy! Where to begin?

First of all, private tech companies have every right to deplatform anyone they want.  They are private companies who require users to agree to a specific set of terms and conditions, and only deplatform users for provable violations of their terms and conditions.

The former guy violated those terms and conditions on multiple platforms so often that it made it a legitimate question whether they were ever going to enforce their own rules.

Now the First Amendment says that Government “shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech . . .”  The way that has been interpreted by the courts means that governments may not regulate speech based on its content.

Which is, of course, exactly what Florida is doing here.

Florida is the government. About that, there can be no doubt.

Florida is limiting the bill to deplatforming politicians. That’s the first content-based restriction.

The decision to deplatform is itself speech. There is your second content-based restriction.

And there is no compelling reason whatsoever to do this.

Also, with penalties of up to $250,000 per day, these are not “de minimis” sanctions.

If this case goes to the Supreme Court, even this remarkably conservative Supreme Court, I think they would slap it down 9-0 (or maybe 8-1, just because Clarence Thomas is an asshole).

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It’s like Pulling Teeth Trying to get Republicans to Sign on to a January 6th Commission

It’s not much of a surprise, but Democrats are having trouble getting Republicans to sign on to a bipartisan

January 6th Commission. The Commission is being modeled after the 9/11 Commission.

Of course, the primary difference here is that on January 6th, Republicans were complicit in the insurrection, which was not true for anyone involved in the 9/11 Commission.

McCarthy had a number or specific objections, which he voiced in a letter to Speaker Pelosi he sent on February 22.

The Democrats gave him each and every one of his demands.

As Nancy Pelosi noted:

“Democrats made repeated efforts to seek a bipartisan compromise. But Leader McCarthy won’t take yes for an answer. In his February 22 letter, he made three requests to be addressed in Democrats’ discussion draft. Every single one was granted by Democrats, yet he still says no.”

Statement by Nancy Pelosi

Of course, many commentators are theorizing that McCarthy’s real objection is that he doesn’t want to be subpoenaed to testify, which is a distinct possibility.

Now it’s Mitch McConnell’s turn to object. McConnell, the undisputed prince of hypocrisy, claimed that he was “open” to the Commission on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday he (surprise!) reversed course.

“After careful consideration, I’ve made a decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of Jan. 6.”

Statement of Mitch McConnell
  • Another commission?
    • Wouldn’t this be the first one?
  • Unbalanced?
    • It would have 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans.
  • Slanted?
    • How so.

But Moscow Mitch doesn’t need a reason. He just asserts whatever he wants.

So, the Democrats will need to find 10 courageous Republicans in the Senate to break a filibuster.

Good luck with that!

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