Thursday, September 28, 2017

White House says Trump's stance on kneeling NFL players is 'pretty black and white'

White House says Trump's stance on kneeling NFL players is 'pretty black and white'

Nobody in the White House seems to have heard of the word "irony."

"Sure it's a short word, but it has too many syllables, Poindexter!"

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I really enjoy the fact that we are supposed to condemn these NFL players for disrespecting the troops.

First of all, how did the freakin' troops get into the equation at all? Talk about spin!

But second of all, guess what those troops are fighting for! It's America. And the one thing that absolutely differentiates America from all other countries is the First Amendment. In every other country that I can think of, the government gets to decide which opinions one may express in public. That includes the liberal European countries and the other great English-speaking democracies. Only in America do the citizens have the unrestricted right to express any opinions they care to - because the government is forbidden by the Constitution from abridging that right. The Congress could not pass a law against this form of protest even if they wanted to. The Supreme Court has already held, several generations ago, that citizens have the right not to salute the flag as a matter of conscience. Clearly this protest is completely analogous.

In other words, the troops are actually fighting for the right of those guys to take a knee, irrespective of who agrees with them.

Of course they are also fighting for the right of President Trump to express his opinion about those actions.

But there is one exception. While Trump, like any citizen, has the right to express his opinion about the appropriateness of the players' actions, he may have crossed the line into an illegal act when he suggested that owners should fire the protesting players. That appears to be a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 227: "Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by an officer of the executive branch." If the House were truly objective rather than political, that could be construed as an impeachable offense, since it is punishable by 15 years in prison and disqualification from holding any Federal office.

In other words, the Prez better hope to God that the conservatives can retain their congressional majorities in the 2018 elections, because he's going to be in serious trouble if the Donkey boys get control.

(Of course, needless to say, the owners are not actually going to take Trump's advice by firing any of those players or making any rules forbidding the players from kneeling, so Trump could argue that he knew his words were just meaningless political prattle and would not actually influence any hiring or firing decisions. In other words, he could defend a prosecution under that statute by admitting that nobody in his right mind would ever do what Trump suggested.)

11 comments:

  1. And even if there's some obscure Presidental exception to this law (unlikely), there's absolutely no doubt that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was in violation. Lock her up!

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    1. Not only is there no exception, but the President is specifically mentioned in the list of those positions covered by the law.

      Of course, there is still the legal debate about whether Trump intended to influence the owners (illegal), or was just expressing an opinion meant to be ignored without consequences (perfectly protected by the First).

      He Tweeted, "The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!" This could very well be construed as a Presidential attempt to influence the employment practices of a private entity based on a political belief, which is clearly forbidden by the law.

      But as I mentioned, he's on thick ice as long as the GOP holds the Congress. If the Democrats were to take over, they would see things quite differently. Losing the White House would be the least of his problems. He would need Pence to pardon him.

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    2. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin said 'the players can protest on their own time.'

      This is technically true, as these players are doing this in their employment, they aren't covered by free speech protections, however:
      1.This is up to their employees (and also possibly their union in response), so the obvious question here is: what team does Mnuchin own?

      2.While Trump is President, he is also supposed to be an employee of the American people, so, similarly, it's debatable when Trump makes an official speech or when he's in some other official capacity that Trump can just express a personal opinion.

      I think it's similarly fair for the American people to say to Trump 'we pay you to do your job as President, and not to express opinions on what private employees and their employers do."

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  2. I rather doubt this is a problem. Trump simply expressed an opinion, as all American citizens are free to do. It would have been a violation of the law only if Trump, for instance had signed an EO specifying that the players will stand or be fired. Or perhaps spoke to the owner of the Teams and offered something in return that only the President can, for firing certain players.

    Both of those examples would be violations of this particular law, while Trump expressing an opinion that they should be fired was simply an American citizen exercising his First Amendment rights.

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  3. As I mentioned, it is a problem if there is a Democratic Congress, it is not if not.

    His right to free speech ends if his speech is construed as an attempt to influence the owners. If his statements are construed as foolish, empty bombast meant to be ignored, then he is totally in the clear.

    Given that Trump's picture is there if you look up "foolish empty bombast meant to be ignored" in the dictionary, he seems pretty safe.

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  4. Sucka bee has all the DUH of Spicer or the Mooch with none of the charisma.

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  5. The First Amendment is utterly irrelevant to the players' protests. They still have the right to protest all they want on their free time without fear of government censorship or reprisal. But they have an employment contract that states that it's a contract violation to engage in behavior that harms public support for the team or league, and they have an employee code of conduct that specifically describes how they are to stand at attention during the National Anthem. When they're in uniform in the stadium at the game, they are on the company clock.

    Just like any other employee: you're free to preach veganism all you like on a soapbox in the park. But if you inflict it on all your customers before you take their orders at McDonald's, you can and should be fired.

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    1. Completely false. Whether by accident or deliberately (probably deliberately given the way these things go these days) the NBA code of conduct was published and reported as the NFL code of conduct.

      The NFL has no such rules.

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    2. Of course, even were these rules the NFL rules, it would be up to the NFL to enforce these rules as a private entity and not for the President of the United States to tell them what to do.

      It's unfortunate given Trump's 'opinions' that there is no similar code of conduct written for U.S Presidents by their employer: U.S citizens.

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  6. Our troops are fighting for the 1st Amendment right to kneel if they choose. They should be more concerned about their contract clauses which may cast their teams in a bad light, aka bad for business.

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