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Posts published in “Rainey”

A Trump positive

rainey

Never thought the day would come - at least in this lifetime - I’d give Donald Trump credit for anything positive. Just seemed absolutely impossible. But, while that “credit” is awfully tangential, it’s his nonetheless.

Hold that thought. A bit of background is required.

The Governor of Connecticut has signed into law legislation allowing that state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). A mouthful, to be sure. But, it’s important.

NPVIC was formed several years ago to make an end run around existing federal law in the way the Electoral College works. Presently, each state has the same number of College votes as it does members of Congress. Idaho, for example, has four - two Representatives and two Senators. Oregon has seven; Washington 12, California 55, Texas 38 and so on.

Currently, if a presidential candidate amasses an Electoral College vote total 270 in several large states, the popular vote winner could lose. In reality, we’d have a minority president. Trump-Clinton. Bush-Gore.

What the Compact represents is states changing their own laws so the popular vote winner is the real winner in future presidential elections. If the Compact can reach the 270 vote total - the same Electoral College number a presidential candidate has to get to win now - future races would go to the popular vote victor. Minus considerable legal challenges to that end run.

With the addition of Connecticut, the Compact currently has 172 electoral votes coming from California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and D.C.. So, the hunt is on for a total of 98 more. A few “biggies” like Ohio (18), Texas (38), Michigan (16) and Florida (29) could put things “over-the-top.”

While there many folk - corporate and political - who don’t want to change - and many reasons (or excuses) for not doing so - the one indisputable argument on the table is simple: all other elections - for anything - are decided by the majority of the most votes cast. Period. The presidency is the only contest - from dog catcher to Congress - in which the majority can - as we’ve seen recently - lose the race.

“What’s that got to do with giving credit to Trump,” you ask?

Since the 2016 election, according to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, more states are asking for information about the Compact and more research is being done on how to draft legislation.

As Connecticut State Rep. Mathew Lesser put it in debate, “The Trump victory appears to have given the issue some added momentum.”

Thanks, Donny! You’ve been a big help.
 

Asking the right questions

rainey

For years, pollsters have found a majority of Americans have little trust in their national media. In many instances, the positive percentages of those questioned about fairness, accuracy and impartiality have hovered below 30-percent or so. I’m not willing to accept those numbers at face value.

One reason for my skepticism is pollsters often don’t define the word “media” before asking their questions. Consider some of the larger outfits in that business - Gallup, Pew, etc. Many of their queries are about media “in general” which leaves responses open to interpretation. On occasion, if they specify which media, further questioning often avoids other sources - mass media, radio, TV, print or “social media.”

And therein lies one reason for my distrust of most such surveys. What about “social” media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like? Given the high percentages of folks - especially those age 40 and under - who get most of their information from such, are those sources broken out from print and broadcast media in polling? Seldom.

Four important factors to consider here. First, nearly none of what appears in “social” media is edited for accuracy, sourcing or even truth. There are no checks on whether the information is reliable. Given the huge number of people who have no idea how businesses operate - or even how their own government functions - you’re on your own when it comes to whether you believe what’s been read or told. That can, in turn, affect how a person sees all media.

Second, if pollsters don’t specifically breakout which media is being asked about - which, in my checking, is all too often the case - responses will be skewed. Comparing a Facebook post to The Washington Post makes responses invalid. One is checked, cross-checked and heavily edited. The other is totally unedited, unchecked and, often, a bogus source.

Third, many folks tend to gravitate to media that agree with their viewpoints because they reinforce what they already believe. They routinely avoid the ones that don’t. For those doing that consistently, they’re not exposed to new or different facts and, thus, cling to information that may be comfortable but also old or wrong. People who rely on Fox, for example, are fed a steady diet of disinformation - much of it edited to skew things to false “facts.”

Finally, another factor skewing polling is the issue of what the word “news” means to both the pollster and the “pollee.” Unless there’s some major disaster or important world event at the moment, CNN, MSNBC and Fox have little to no news after 4pm MST. It’s mostly opinion mixed with a few facts. Much of it is reporters talking to reporters or others favorable to the networks point-of-view. It’s not “news.” But, pollsters don’t always differentiate news from opinion in their questions. So, if the responder doesn’t like a certain opinion source, is that person conflating opinion with news?

I’m certainly not opposed to polling. Far from it. But, before taking results at face value, one needs to know how the question is asked and if questioner and responder are clear on the meaning of terms they’re using.

I think most of us have a higher trust of national media than a lot of polls indicate. But that’s just my opinion. Certainly not news. Just so we’re clear.
 

A very sorry mess

rainey

It’s absolutely impossible to look back on last week’s Senate Judiciary hearing with anything but disappointment, shock, anger and disgust.

Regardless of how one feels about the nominee, the entire proceedings were shameful. Members of the panel more than characterized the divisions in this nation. By their noxious, immovable and completely partisan behavior during the whole sorry affair, new and horrendous political and societal fissures were created that won’t heal in a generation. If ever. In the process, Republicans, especially, ignored the time-honored method of selecting, vetting and impartially examining merits of a U.S. Supreme Court pick.

Against the knowledgeable and politically accurate advice of his own Majority Leader, and with deadly malice aforethought, the president lit the fuse. He turned the selection process over to a right wing think tank after placing his own asterisk by Brent Kavanaugh’s name.

There was no vetting process. Documents were secreted. Outlandish attempts were made to conceal important information about the nominee’s legal career and personal history. Millions of dollars were spent on a whitewash ad campaign. Republican members of the committee staff were openly partisan and blocked attempts of Democrat counterparts to develop and present their own findings.

The nation has seen the outcome. Two badly damaged people, pitted against each other like gladiators in some coliseum, encouraged by partisans to “do battle” as witnesses. The whole damned thing should never have been allowed to proceed after the first wisps of smoke appeared in the candidate’s background.

The prostituted process lacked the one ingredient that could have saved the whole sorry affair: a thorough FBI check into the various claims arising from the nominee’s past. A week’s impartial examination - maybe even only a few days - could have produced necessary information for the Committee to make a just and informed recommendation. Republicans repeatedly refused anyone who asked. They, uniformly, would not yield to even common sense.

There is now an FBI investigation in progress. But, look at the cost of the accumulated wreckage. Look at the career and personal damage to witnesses and politicians alike. All of it - all of it - could have been avoided.

There’s enough blame in this whole sorry mess to go around. Democrats also played a role in fouling the deal.

But, Republicans are in charge. They have the dominant numbers. They have the gavel. They call the tune - set the stage - direct the show. They have complete responsibility that goes with all those facts. To our everlasting shame, with the world watching, they conducted this demonstration of barbarous partisanship and may have set despicable “standards” for future judicial proceedings.

You can choose to believe the accuser(s). You can believe the nominee. But, one thing you must personally believe was the visible demonstration of intemperance, overwrought emotions, combativeness and deep anger displayed by Kavanaugh. Then, regardless of political outlook, you have to ask yourself “Are those characteristics ones you want sitting in judgement on all issues brought before the U.S. Supreme Court?” What if it’s your “issue?” How trusting would you be your issue would be judged impartially?

Finally, the entire tragedy could have been avoided with the selection of someone not carrying the baggage of years of political partisanship. Someone characterized by demonstrated legal acuity, possessed of emotional and other personal traits desired in a Justice of the highest court. Someone known by peers to be capable of withstanding the pressures and rigors of serving on a panel carrying the full weight of one-third of this nation’s constitutional governance.

This tragic affair could have been avoided if those charged with conducting the matter had relied on tradition, rules, common sense, compassion and law. They did not.

Regardless of the outcome of November’s election, the bad feelings, anger, resentment, emotional damage and political ruptures will linger. For a long, long time.
 

Divisions are expensive

rainey

There was a posting on Facebook recently that caught my eye. “Remember when you could say the earth was flat and Nazis were bad and be sure everyone around you agreed?

Yes, I do remember. I remember very well. For nearly all my extended life, you could say those things and not fear anyone disagreeing. No more.

A personal story. We’ve been thinking of selling our home and buying another locally. Commission on just the purchase would be about $12,000 to the Realtor. Plus about the same amount, likely to the same Realtor, on our sale. No small potatoes there.

We called on a place we drove by, connected with an agent, didn’t care for the inside but asked him to keep us apprised of new listings on the market. For several weeks, he did.

Then, a few weeks ago, I sent him a copy of a then current “SECOND THOUGHTS,” thinking he might like to know something about his new clients. Bad idea, it seems.

In a few minutes, he emailed, telling me in no uncertain terms to immediately take him off my list because it was “obvious we didn’t see eye-to-eye.” Of course, I complied. In these following weeks, we’ve heard nothing.

Then, I got to thinking about the some $24,000 that could have just fallen in his lap with a serendipitous phone call for which he did absolutely nothing. And some mildly political comments that caused him to walk away?

I’ve seen the guy. I’ve seen how he dresses and the age of the car he drives. He could use the money. But, I’ve also heard from him of his Evangelical church of “25,000" attendees and listened to a bit of his own political talk. Now, he’s decided my general political writings are not acceptable.

Here’s another case. I’ve a very talented friend who’s very close. He’s different from me in about any subject you choose. Nearly nothing in common. And his political views are very close to those of Vlad, the Impaler.

Yet, we talk regularly, chat about any subject that comes from our very different thinking, have disagreements, but have never come close to a social rupture. We’re good friends. With him, “the earth is round and Nazis are bad.” That’s enough to agree on. I’d hate to ever lose his friendship.

I remember eight decades of my life when those with differing views expressed them without fear of alienating me or anyone else. As I watched my parents interact with acquaintances and, later, I with my own, I found many of the “differences” in beliefs - social, material, political - were binding, not divisive. We were open. Accepting. Learning.

Too often now, that’s not the case. To our shame. To our loss. The current “with-me-or-against-me” tribalism has ruptured many friendships. And even families. It’s torn the social fabric that traditionally made us a strong country. And it’s playing pure Hell in our national governance.

Of our national media, our President says “Don’t believe what you see and don’t believe what you hear.” He’s attempting to drive a political and societal wedge to further separate us - one from the other. His relentless lying is yet a further attempt to cloud reality by sowing confusion and hatred.

Attorneys have a saying: “When the client is innocent, try the case. When the client is guilty, try the evidence.” We’re living in just such a situation. The client - Trump - is guilty. So, he’s trying the evidence, using deceit, fraud, smoke, disinformation, lying and any other known delaying tactic to confuse.

Our erstwhile Realtor is a victim of that confusion, I think, as are many others. A minority, to be sure, but many. Only in his case, it’s costing him about $24,000 cash as well.
 

Taking a knee

rainey

"Believe in something.
Even if it means sacrificing everything”

Those words come from Nike’s new advertising. They appear beneath a black-and-white picture of Colin Kaepernick who used to be an NFL quarterback. It’s the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan.

Kaepernick hasn’t played an NFL game since the end of 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers dropped him. No other team has given him a chance to continue his professional career.

His sin? Kneeling, in protest, during the playing of our National Anthem at the opening of football games. His purpose? To call national attention to this nation’s ongoing racial injustice and police brutality dealing with Black men. Just that simple. Just that profound.

But, nothing in professional sports, in my long lifetime, has been so disturbingly twisted and, in far too many cases, deliberately misunderstood. What Kaepernick did was for the reasons he stated. No more. No less. Period. Patriotism, as usually defined, had nothing to do with it. Or, did it? Real love of country could easily be applied.

He’s made an attention-grabbing “statement” to focus us all on a true national problem. That’s what protests are about. That’s what protestors do. Whether dangling from cables off a high bridge to protest environmental concerns, marching in the streets to demand an end to sexual harassment or sitting in at “Whites Only” lunch counters 55 years ago to demand equal rights for everyone. All of us.

Protests mean nothing if they don’t get attention. Attention and action. Few of us haven’t protested something. Something we felt was unjust, demeaning, illegal, criminal or just plain wrong. We’re a nation of protestors and, like it or not, our governing laws allow us to do so. Urge us to do so.

When Kaepernick decided to take a stand - or a knee, in this case - he said “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish, on my part, to look the other way.” Sounds reasonable. He used his success in football to try to accomplish his goal, while grabbing our national attention doing so. Also sounds smart.

But, there’s an often seemingly deliberate ignorance expressed over the kneeling business. Our egregious president weighted in with one of his infamous, ill-informed tweets: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field now?’” No. No, I wouldn’t.

When those kinds of words are used, the term “deliberate ignorance” is fitting. “Flag disrespect” has nothing to do with it. But, Trump’s not alone. In our little cactus-covered neighborhood, many folks are coming unglued, spewing hate and venom all over our local Facebook columns. Some are posting pictures of their burning Nike gear and bragging of how they’re “protesting” Kapernick and Nike’s stand. They do so without a touch of irony for the fact they, too, are “protesting” a perceived wrong.

Nike management knows all that. Yet, the company has staked its considerable success on a cause that management believes is just and right. We’ll see.

The NFL has, as usual, bungled what varied responses it’s made to all this. It created a “policy” forbidding kneeling. Those wishing to protest were to stay in the locker room until after playing of the Anthem. But, that was put “on hold” in July. So, there really is no “policy.”

It’s been my experience, many who protest the loudest about “disrespect of flag and country” or find other imagined “travesties” in this legitimate protest, can’t explain why such expressions have occurred. They’re too wrapped in hate and feigned “patriotism”to actually understand the issue(s).

Possibly the most “adult” response I’ve heard has come from many veterans. While some claim outrage, others have a more thoughtful - and to my mind - accurate reaction. “What he’s doing is exactly why I did three tours in Afghanistan,” said one. “To see to it he has the right to protest and that no one can take that right away.”

It’s possible to argue the form of protest Kaepernick has chosen. But, it’s impossible to dispute the reasoning. And the necessity. To a nation’s shame.
 

Not who but what

rainey

As usual, our national media folks are running around, chasing their tails again. The herd mentality permeating today’s print and broadcast practitioners is at a fever pitch as they try to find out who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed.

In their frenzy, nearly all are missing the real issue. It’s not WHO wrote it but WHAT was said.

For the record, I believe the writer should have identified him/herself which would have strengthened the credibility of the piece. I also think The Times should have demanded the op-ed be by-lined. As others are. Or refused publication. As others are.

Also, for the record, I believe the writer was National Intelligence Chief Dan Coates. Gut hunch. But, that’s another story for another time.

As a stand-alone piece, the op-ed seems closer to gossip than new facts. Yes, it has some juicy tidbits like keeping Trump in the dark about certain things, staff agreeing to follow an order, then ignoring it, stealing documents from Trump’s desk. All grist for the “I-told-you-so” crowd. But, without authorship ID, pretty much gossip.

The plain fact is, we already knew most of this from publication of three books on the market in recent months. My pick of them is Bob Woodward’s “FEAR” which is due out tomorrow but which has been in the headlines for the last two weeks, thanks to a broken publication release date.

Woodward, whose investigative journalism career goes back to Watergate with Carl Bernstein, is one of the best in the business. He’s a taskmaster for accuracy, probity, intimate detail and documentation. He routinely records almost all interviews and conversations, gathering supporting documents when available. I’ve never heard of a reporter more difficult to challenge than Woodward.

His book is filled with named sources, saying their pieces into a digital recorder. Several have denied saying what they said. But, it’s on his record. Woodward is not backing down. And, he won’t. The irony here is some voices quoted and documented by Woodward spoke truth then and are lying in denials now. Or, their denials are incomplete. If the op-ed is accurate, and it really was written by someone high up in the administration, someone is lying there, too, since all cabinet and senior staff have submitted their denials.

The writer of the op-ed will eventually be identified. Just as Watergate’s “Deepthroat” finally surfaced - after 35-years - the current anonymous source will be known. In a shorter time, likely, but it’ll happen. Which makes media focus more on WHO than WHAT even more ridiculous.

Three consecutive books on the “Titanic” atmosphere in our White House were written separately but resulted in a lot of overlap and repetition of the chaos. As citizens - and as voters - we know all we need to know about this dysfunctional administration. And, daily, we are slathered in new detail about our disastrous and dangerous President. With or without the op-ed, we know enough.

The media drumbeat about the Times op-ed is distracting and useless. Without attribution, there are really only two ways to look at it. One, nearly all of it simply confirms what we already know, thereby reducing its relevance. And, two, with no authorship, it’s basically gossip.

And here’s a final theory - improbable, but fun to think about. Suppose the op-ed was a “plant” by the administration to take attention off the Kavanaugh hearings. What’s happening in that Senate hearing room is the wreckage of decorum, precedent and undermining of what that hearing should really be about. But, Kavanaugh, on the U.S. Supreme Court, is thought to be a Trump-saver when push-comes-to-shove. Which is likely.

I’m just sayin’.
 

Taking out the trash

rainey

With all the garbage coming out of the West Wing theses days, you’d be forgiven if you weren’t aware of a piece of pure trash resting in a U.S. Senate committee.

It’s euphemistically called the “Restoring American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or “RAISE.” It’s the handiwork of Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who, more than occasionally, reminds us of his racist tendencies. Only one other Senator - Purdue of Georgia - has signed on.

Here are the highlights (?) for you to decide if my word “trash” is appropriate. Should RAISE become law, it would create a point system to approve/disapprove applications for entry into the U.S.. Perfect score is 30+. If you want in and have a high-paying job waiting, that’s worth up to 13 points. If you’re close to 25-years-old - or either side of that arbitrary number - you can get 10 points which decline with the age difference. College degrees - especially in STEM - can “earn” 13 points.

If you’re coming to invest $1.35 million in the States, a maximum of 12 points. Extraordinary achievement - Nobel Prize or some such - or if you’re an Olympic athlete can get you 25 points. Speaking English gets 15 points.

So it would seem a 25-year-old English-speaking Olympian with a doctorate and a couple of million bucks would be a shoo-in. But, a high school graduate with a family of five, trying to escape death at home, would be turned away. Not enough points.

But, back to RAISE. Each year, those with the most cumulative points could apply for a green card. Those not scoring high enough could try again next year. Nearly all other employment or country-of-origin caps would be eliminated. H-1B visas - normally associated with high tech skills - India and China - and those with the most students already here - China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea - would likely have the most points.

There’s more. RAISE would cut green card issuance in half. It eliminates pathways for siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal temporary residents to apply for permanent lawful residency status, limiting the family path to spouses and minor children. It also would end the visa diversity lottery.

Nearly all economists aware of RAISE say it’s pure trouble. They conclude such a law would likely cause the average American worker to lose wages and other gains.

Opponents say RAISE is a “nativist and xenophobic” attempt to keep out foreigners, including many who would benefit the U.S. and our economy.

It’s interesting to note nothing in RAISE mentions farm workers, a major draw for people coming for work. And, “past may be prologue” here. In 1964, a similar bill was enacted affecting farming. Conservative economist Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute wrote “Instead of hiring more American workers or raising wages, farmers turned to machines and altered crops to take account of the new dearth of workers. Instead of planting crops requiring labor-intensive harvesting or care, they planted crops requiring fewer workers.” Sort of “more potatoes and less radishes.”

Research also strongly indicates RAISE would not only negatively affect the status of millions of legal immigrants and harm the entire national economy, it would also change our entire demographic structure. Sort of like building “the wall” without building “the wall.”

Those supporting RAISE are notably anti-immigration folk. Stephen Miller - White House resident racist - and Steve Bannon - Trump’s political “Captain Destructo”- are lobbying for passage.

All of that - and more - leads me to call RAISE anti-immigrant trash. I suspect most Senators ascribe to that nomenclature since Cotton’s handiwork has languished in committee since a year ago January. He now has a second version which has attracted no other sponsors, either.

Will RAISE get to the floor for a vote? I doubt it. Too vile even for the gutless majority. But, it’s there, like a benign cancer. Now, at least you’ve heard about it.

I’m sticking with the “T” word. What say you?
 

Redirecting the anger

rainey

The time has come to stop wasting more frustrations and deep anger hating Trump in my later years. I still do. And I’d like to see his crooked, lying, arrogant ass in jail for the rest of his scheming, adulterous life.

No, that’s over. Time - probably long past time - to redirect the contempt and extreme disappointment elsewhere. To congressional Republicans. Every damned one!

Even without waiting for whatever damning report comes out of the Mueller investigation, there’s more than enough evidence already on the public record for impeachment of Trump on a half dozen charges. Bill Clinton’s hallway peccadillos pale when compared to the lying, cheating, illegal payoffs, double-dealing, money laundering, perversions, repeated sexual philandering on a grand scale and outright contemptible actions already proven regarding Trump. Even without Mueller’s documentation.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and their cohorts have demonstrated a willing, deliberate, absolute failure to carry out their constitutional duties required by the oaths of office they swore to uphold. Took not once but several times.

Forget the unwarranted GOP murder of the Obama nomination of Merritt Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ignore their current, outrageous plans to shove Kavanaugh through the backdoor of that same court. Forget they’re sitting on their collective butts while ignoring the guaranteed right of immigration and the wreaking of unnecessary pain and suffering on thousands of innocent people. Just ignore all the lying, perversion and continued contempt of Senate and House rules and the denial of even common courtesy to Democrats. Forget it all.

Simply focus on Congressional Republicans and the total disregard for their absolute responsibility to provide checks and balances on the other two branches of our federal government. Aside from a few ignorant “space cadets” who’ve no idea what their duties are, most members of Congress are at least professionally familiar with their job descriptions and most have heard of the U.S. Constitution.

You also know understand the problems caused by their inactions. You know because the ones quitting, or who were knocked off in primaries, are admitting as much in their comments while headed for the exits. They’ve cited inaction. They’ve openly criticized Trump and even their own Party and their “leaders.” If departing members of both houses can make such admissions on the way out, it’s obvious a good number remaining have similar feelings.

But, as a body, they’re failing their required responsibilities. They’ve let the bluster and B.S. of Trump cow them into inaction. Many, in their desire for continued employment, have become willing accomplices in his highly outrageous conduct, his dubious actions and his outright lying. He’s perverting the Presidency, making a mockery of decorum, destabilizing foreign policy and making every attempt to have agencies of his “administration” go after his “enemies.”

The question, then, becomes, what the Hell will it take for Congress to do it’s required job? How much outrage - how much shame - how many lies - how many outright illegal activities - how much prostitution of the Oval Office will be too much? What - if anything - will be “a bridge too far?”

It’s easy - and inaccurate - to say Trump bears full responsibility for his “wrecking ball” presidency. Yes, it’s his “ball.” But, Republicans in Congress have let him swing it and, at times, have given him tacit permission to do so by their inaction.

Whether there’ll be a “blue wave” in November is open to question. That’s for Democrats and their supporters to work out. But, voting Republicans - freedom-loving, constitution-caring, fiscally-responsible Republicans - need to step up when voting. They need to turn out and clean their own house - and Senate, too. Even - shudder - vote for a few Democrats. They need to put the Party on a better, more stable footing - purge it where needed - return it to the Party it used to be. Rebuild the respectability necessary if those who’ve left the GOP are ever to return “home.”

Trump’s just a symptom of the illness. The law will, take him down eventually. What’s really ailing the GOP body politic is decay, cowardice and a sickness in the current majorities in Congress. Time for Republican voters to call the doctor.
 

We need new rules

rainey

A journalist friend and I had a “conversation” on Facebook the other day. We had a small disagreement on method, but we were both working toward the same point.

Our combined comments had to do with several “social” media sites removing extreme nutcase, Alex Jones, and his otherworldly conspiracy and hate epistles from their pages. Jones has been a national social cancer and an embarrassment for years. He’s had a marginal tinfoil hat following, but many similarly inclined conspiracy buffs avoid him as “too extreme.”

My friend who, in a previous life, was a very fine reporter and writer, posited removal of Jones was a good thing, while noting other poisonous voices out there could stand a fatal dose of anonymity as well. He cited the common practice of newspapers setting guidelines for reader’s letters and how some submissions were rejected. He wondered if similar guidelines could be set by Facebook, Twitter and others.

I demurred, saying that would get into First Amendment free speech territory and muzzling speech we don’t like could be open to challenge.

Though we disagreed on what could - and couldn’t - be done, I’m know my correspondent would agree on one point. Sooner or later - hopefully sooner - a briefcase full of challenges to shut down hate voices will land on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’m a 1st Amendment believer and have practiced as such for many years. Even as the ACLU has defended some entirely terrible examples, I’ve often swallowed hard and agreed with the depth and width of such protection of “free” speech.

But, “social media” and the unfettered/unedited I-Net have taken us into new territory. Too much of what’s “published” is foul, baseless, ignorant, ridiculous, misleading, deceptive and lies. Most of us have no idea who’s creating and publishing much of it. There’s ample public evidence some comes from foreign countries, some from anonymous political operatives and more from people just hellbent on seeing their hate and racist words in a public medium.

As individuals, we can “deep six” a lot of this crap. My delete key gets an active workout. But, even companies behind the various sites can’t agree on what should be banned. In the case of Jones, Facebook dropped him but Twitter hasn’t. Facebook said he violated its rules; another said he didn’t abuse theirs.

The evidence is piled high that the I-net - for all its wonders and advantages - has made it easier for haters to spread their hate, racists to rant, lies to be passed off as truth and the unscrupulous to prey on innocent folk and innocent minds.

While these denizens of destruction have always been with us, they’ve never had such direct and easy access to the rest of us - access unedited, unverified, false and even dangerous. As the Facebook et al instances prove, there really are no accepted rules - no protections - no verification.

SCOTUS is going to have to decide. Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch can do anything - make any policies - enact any laws - than wouldn’t wind up before the high court. If we wait for either to act, a lot more avoidable damage will occur.

When a sociopath in a Boise basement can construct a web page that looks exactly like the editorial pages of today’s New York Times or any other major media, we’ve got a problem. When an Alex Jones can daily preach baseless conspiracies and call for the murder of people in public office, we need a speech “delete” mechanism.

Freedom of speech and assembly form much of the base of our national liberties. The terribly high price paid by millions of Americans for more that 240 years requires they be revered and preserved.

We have twin national sicknesses of division and tribalism at the moment. Some - including other nations - are trying to use them to their own advantage, diminish our freedoms and poison national discourse. In some ways, they’re succeeding. They’re actually using some of our freedoms recklessly and dangerously for amoral and illegal ends.

SCOTUS will have to act eventually. The outcome of that decision-making likely will change our nation forever.

We all need to remember that in November when we vote. The selection of who we want making that decision is ours.