1. What? Negotiation competence? Boy, we haven’t seen THAT for a while. President Trump just pulled out of the scheduled summit with North Korea, a public lesson in Negotiation 101. If only Barack Obama had taken the Art of the Deal seminar before capitulating to Cuba and Iran. the letter the current elected President just sent to North Korea could not be more obvious in its devices, but I guarantee you that my negotiations professor at law school, Dean Adrian Fisher, one of the negotiators of the SALT treaty, would have approved. Here’s the letter, released this morning.
This is another ethics test, by the way. Take note of who criticizes the President for this, for they will be revealing themselves as either reflex-Trrump haters or the kind of people used car dealers love to see walking in the door.
2. “A Nation of Assholes” update. It is now beyond dispute that the concept was right but that I badly misjudged the population that I thought would be primarily affected. My theory in the 2015 essay was that that having an ethics-challenged boor like Donald Trump as President would degrade the ethical standards of the public through the “rotting fish head” process: people follow the leader. Well, that has happened too, but the worst asshole transformation has beset progressives and “the resistance.,” as their behavior gets worse by the hour.
Provocative Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mother in Minnesota last week, and once she was recognized, other patrons began yelling obscenities and insults, culminating in one of them throwing a drink at her. I’m not going to discuss how unethical this conduct is—do I have to? I’m more interested in what this ugly display tells us about the current mindset of the Angry Left these days. I cannot recall any similar treatment of any public figure in a dining establishment—not Henry Kissinger during the height of Vietnam War protests, not Nixon Watergate figures—and certainly not an opinion journalist. The Minnesotans—I’m so old, I remember when it had the reputation of being a nice state—were taking their cues, not from Trump, but from the hate-mongers on the Democratic/progressive side as well as the late night comics who now do little but denigrate the President of the United States, his policies, and anyone who supports them.
It is instructive to read the comments on various websites about the incident, for the sympathy of progressives is overwhelming—for the harassing gang of diners. Here , check out the thread following the Mediaite article.
The majority attitude of the progressive defenders of the attack: Lahren deserved it; it wasn’t a really a drink, it was just water; this was free speech, and she can dish it out but can’t take it. Meanwhile, the restaurant managers wereapparently cowering somewhere as if it were a school shooting and they were Broward Count security guards. Every one of the shouting and abusive patrons should have been thrown out.
Minor kudos are due to Presidential decapitator Kathy Griffin, who tweeted,
“I couldn’t disagree more with @TomiLahren, but I don’t think it’s cool to resort to physical actions to make your point. The first amendment is a beautiful thing – use it.”
Someone explain to Kathy that there is no Constitutional right to disrupt a restaurant and harass a diner.
3. A plug. Old friend Virginia Hume Onufer has a political podcast that is free, and if it is anything like Virginia, it must be also funny and smart. You can download it here.
4. Trump can’t block twitter-users. I thought this would come out the other way, and it might yet. The President doing on Twitter what every other user of the public social media platform can do is unconstitutional, a district court ruled.
On such matters I generally yield to Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh, who writes,
[1.] The virtual space provided by Twitter for replying to the President’s Tweets is a “designated public forum” — a space controlled (even if not owned) by the government that is generally open for public speech to fellow members of the public, and in which the First Amendment forbids viewpoint discrimination. The Tweets themselves aren’t a forum, because they are the President’s own speech; but the space for public replies is a forum. The court’s concern is that replies are a valuable means for the repliers to speak to fellow members of the public. The court recognizes that there’s no right to speak to the President in a way that the President is obliged to read; the President remains free, for instance, to use Twitter’s “mute” function, which would keep him from seeing the user’s replies when he reviews his own feed.
[2.] The President controls this space in his capacity as a government official, and not just as a private citizen.
The record establishes (1) that the @realDonaldTrump account is presented as being “registered to Donald J. Trump, ’45th President of the United States of America, Washington, D.C.'”; (2) “that the President’s tweets from @realDonaldTrump … are official records that must be preserved under the Presidential Records Act”; and (3) that the @realDonaldTrump account has been used in the course of the appointment of officers (including cabinet secretaries), the removal of officers, and the conduct of foreign policy — all of which are squarely executive functions.
That is, the President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President.
And though the @RealDonaldTrump account was created long before the election, “the President and [his assistant Daniel] Scavino’s present use of the @realDonaldTrump account weighs far more heavily in the analysis than the origin of the account as the creation of private citizen Donald Trump.”
[3.] Though blocked users remain free to read the President’s Tweets, and can even comment on them through various workarounds (such as by creating new accounts), the various workarounds “require [the individual plaintiffs] to take more steps than non-blocked, signed-in users to view the President’s tweets,” which “delay[s] their ability to respond to @realDonaldTrump tweets.” This is not a vast burden, the court concluded, but “the First Amendment recognizes, and protects against, even de minimis harms.”
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My quick thoughts: I think the court’s conclusions 1 and 3 are pretty clearly correct; I think there’s a plausible case that the comment space should be labeled a “limited public forum” rather than a “designated public forum,” but that is not relevant here—the key distinction between the two kinds of fora is that restrictions on speech in designated public fora must be content-neutral and in limited publica fora need only be viewpoint-neutral, but here the plaintiffs are alleging viewpoint discrimination, which is equally barred in limited and designated public fora.
Read the rest of his analysis here.