Punting the Issue
Imagine our surprise when local St. Louis attorneys accused the National Football League and its owners of not responding to multiple requests for information, refusing to swear to certain facts and hiding information related to the largest lawsuit regarding the St. Louis Rams’ ditching the city for Los Angeles. Attorneys made the claims against the NFL in a hearing last week, as reported in the Post-Dispatch.
Wait. Is this the same NFL that agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle brain-injury complaints in a class action lawsuit by its players? The same league that was accused of unfairly denying benefits to brain-injured players? The same league that allegedly tried to reduce or reverse monetary awards through appeals, audits and other tactics to players whose lives were wrecked by brain injuries?
It would be shocking if an unrepentant secretive club of billionaires learned nothing from its previous scandals and cover-ups. Then again, old habits are hard to break.
Let’s Be Clear About Borders
Clear thinking and eloquent discourse apparently aren’t Jared Kushner’s strong suit. Whatever President Donald Trump’s son-in-law did to merit designation as the president’s chief envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace, it certainly wasn’t his articulation of the key ingredients required to reach a deal: “The political plan, which is very detailed, is really about establishing borders and resolving final status issues,” Kushner stated about his mediation efforts. But “the goal of resolving these borders is really to eliminate the borders.”
So let’s get this straight. Borders are good. No, wait, they’re bad. Peace is all about establishing borders, which have gone undefined since Israel’s original 1949 armistice boundaries were drawn. A lot of expansion and annexation has occurred since. But according to Kushner, borders need to be eliminated, which would suggest he’s aiming for, what, a one-state solution? That would be big news to a lot of people in the Middle East.
Then there’s Trump himself, who complained in the context of his border wall debate, “A country without borders is not a country at all,” which raises a lot more questions than it answers when applied to the Israeli-Palestinian question. No wonder Kushner seems confused.
Think First, Then Tweet
The Florida Bar Association is doing its part to make sure Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., thinks before he tweets out implicit threats in the future. Hours before President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, was to testify in public before Congress Wednesday, Gaetz tweeted in reference to Cohen’s Twitter handle: “Hey @MichaelCohen212 ... Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot ...”
It’s hard to think of any other interpretation of the tweet than as a threat and warning to Cohen that he’d better think twice about what he says about Trump. In Florida and around the country, such a threat could be interpreted as witness tampering.
After the bar association announced it would investigate, Gaetz deleted the tweet and apologized: “Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks. ... Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.”
The National Rifle Association’s magazine features a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was gravely wounded by a gunman in 2011. Next to them is the headline, “Target Practice.” Yes, really.
The NRA’s defense is that the article is about Democrats “targeting” gun rights — but c’mon. It’s not hard to imagine that photo hanging from the garage walls of some pretty unstable people out there.
Does anyone remember Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man arrested in October for targeting 13 prominent personalities with mail bombs? How about Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist arrested last month while amassing an arsenal and planning attacks on prominent Democrats — including Pelosi? Words matter.
The NRA’s beef is with legislation that Pelosi, Giffords and others are pushing to require background checks on all sales or transfers of guns, with exceptions between family members. Currently, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks for gun sales — allowing anyone who wants to avoid one to just go through a private seller.
Closing that loophole is as common-sense as it gets. The NRA, of course, is opposed. But what would you expect from an organization that doesn’t have enough sense to avoid putting the word “target” next to a woman — Giffords — who was shot in the head?
Not the Same Thing
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, accused by two women of sexual assault, made a speech in the state Senate arguing for his right to defend himself amid calls for his resignation. That’s not unreasonable. But then he compared his plight to those of lynching victims in the state’s past. Um, no.
Like much of the South, Virginia has a monstrous history of lynching against black citizens during the Jim Crow era. Falsely accusing the victims of rape was a common scenario. Today’s politicians there rightly view it as a shameful chapter in their state’s past.
So when Fairfax, an African-American Democrat, invoked that painful past to suggest he was being denied due process the way lynching victims were, it sparked some understandable outrage. “That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked,” said Republican House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert.
Fairfax has every right to due process. But he doesn’t have the right to invoke the horror of lynching as a political strategy.