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Archive of Articles in the "Free Speech" Category

Friday Talking Points [440] -- Liar, Liar!

[ Posted Friday, June 9th, 2017 – 17:20 PDT ]

President Donald Trump and former F.B.I. chief James Comey engaged this week in an extended game of "Liar, liar!" Or, more properly: "Liar!" "No, you're a liar!" Yes, it was "Super Bowl" week in Washington, folks!

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Off With Her Head!

[ Posted Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 – 17:17 PDT ]

So, comedienne Kathy Griffin's head appears to be on the chopping block. That's a metaphor, of course, and as of now it is even inaccurate, since CNN has already parted ways with Griffin (she co-hosted their New Year's Eve show with Anderson Cooper, one of the most bizarre television matchups since Al Franken and Arianna Huffington appeared "in bed" together, doing their version of election coverage in 1996). Since CNN's announcement, the proper metaphor becomes: "Kathy Griffin axed by CNN." Or, perhaps: "her head has already rolled." These aren't really political metaphors, they're instead business-related. Speaking of getting "axed" rather than getting fired is merely poetic hyperbole, and who among us hasn't ever used the "heads are going to roll" or "on the chopping block" line ourselves? Does this kind of conflation cross a moral or ethical line? Or is it merely what used to be called "gallows humor" -- attempting to make light of the worst of situations?

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Friday Talking Points [437] -- That Thing That Trump Did

[ Posted Friday, May 19th, 2017 – 17:44 PDT ]

We'd like to begin today by apologizing for not including whatever scandal broke while we were writing this column. It takes us hours to write these, and while we're typing we're not reading news headlines. So this weekly wrapup will doubtlessly not mention whatever scandal broke in the past few hours, and for this we apologize. We would direct you to the final talking point today to cover this lapse (from which we also borrowed our subtitle today, because Daniel Drezner's article is such a hilarious piece of satire).

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In Praise Of Court Jesters

[ Posted Thursday, May 11th, 2017 – 18:01 PDT ]

There must be something to the myths, though, even if only in a Jungian-archetypical kind of way. Because they certainly still remain with us. In today's world, of course, they are not dressed in motley (well, some less so than others...); and instead of a perch near the throne, they crack wise on television shows to an audience of millions. They are our late-night comedians. Two of them were in the news earlier this week, but before I get to Monday night's performances by Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers, I'd like to confess my own evolution in favor of our modern court jesters.

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How Obama Could End Criticism Of His Wall Street Speech

[ Posted Monday, May 1st, 2017 – 16:31 PDT ]

Barack Obama caused somewhat of a tizzy last week, when it was announced he would be giving a speech to some bastions of Wall Street, for a cool $400,000 speaking fee. Some were simply aghast at the idea, for a couple of different reasons. But there's one way Obama could make most of the criticism disappear (at least that portion coming from the left), and that is by making one simple promise. If Obama pledged to immediately release the transcript of his speech right after he gave it, he could defuse a lot of the angst the idea is causing among progressives. The speech reportedly won't be given until September, so Obama isn't facing an immediate deadline; but the faster he swears he'll release the text of his speech, the better for him politically.

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In Support Of Coulter's Right To Speak

[ Posted Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 – 16:21 PDT ]

Decades ago, a group of American Nazis wanted to hold a march, complete with swastikas and all the rest of the Nazi regalia. The city they wanted to march in turned their request down. The Nazis fought in court, and they were aided in doing so by the American Civil Liberties Union. That's what an unshakable commitment to the First Amendment means -- defending those with whom you do not agree. Which is why I support Ann Coulter's right to speak at the University of California, Berkeley. I certainly don't agree with a single word that comes out of the woman's mouth, but I have to defend her right to spew her bile in a venue supported by my tax dollars.

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From The Archives -- Big Brother v. Little Brother

[ Posted Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 – 16:38 PDT ]

Today's topic is the mess United Airlines now finds themselves in, after video of a passenger being forcefully dragged off an airplane (even though he had a reserved seat) went viral. Not only viral, but all over prime-time news as well.

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Don't Try To Co-opt Indivisible Movement, Fulfill It

[ Posted Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 – 18:29 PST ]

There are two things currently happening in the world of Democratic and progressive politics, which are happening independently of each other, for the most part. This weekend, the Democratic National Committee will meet to elect a new chair. Meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, the progressive wave of energy and resistance to Donald Trump and his agenda shows no signs of abating. But I would extend a word of caution to whomever becomes the next D.N.C. chair: Don't attempt to corral or co-opt the burgeoning Indivisible movement -- instead, just do your damnedest to fulfill their expectations.

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Friday Talking Points [416] -- The Fallout Continues

[ Posted Friday, November 18th, 2016 – 17:42 PST ]

We have one prediction for Donald Trump's presidency that we haven't noticed elsewhere, so we thought it worth mentioning up front. Donald Trump will quite likely use the "bully pulpit" of the presidency better than anyone since the man who coined the term, Teddy Roosevelt. Well, Franklin Roosevelt certainly connected with the people, so maybe that's an unfair omission, but no matter who you put on the list of presidents who effectively used public opinion against Congress, Trump is very likely going to wind up pretty high on that list.

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Cleveland, Day Three -- Cruz Refuses!

[ Posted Thursday, July 21st, 2016 – 00:18 PDT ]

Heading into tonight's speechifying, I was convinced that Ted Cruz would emerge afterwards as the heir apparent to the Republican nomination in 2020, should Donald Trump fail to win in November. Now, I'm not so sure.

But before we get to the big story of the night, let's start at the beginning. Today, the realization finally dawned in the Trump camp that they had to do something to stop the bleeding over the plagiarism storyline. A staffer was summarily dragged out who offered to fall on her own sword, and magnanimous Donald pardoned her, saying "everyone makes mistakes." So they likely successfully prevented the story from continuing for another day. But it would have been overshadowed anyway (obviously) by the end of the night.

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