New And More Dangerous Stage In U.S. Constitutional Crisis

The 35-day (partial) government shutdown, longest in American history, ended Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, with a temporary and grudging truce between President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress. The truce expires on Feb. 15. Some Federal agencies began reopening on Saturday, and about 800,000 government workers will receive paychecks. Date of paychecks to be announced.

The shutdown, the fight over a border wall at the Mexican border, and most importantly, the Constitutional crisis involving the power of the U.S. Congress to appropriate government funds and the power of the president to do . . . whatever . . .  is off the front pages of American newspapers.

We might be forgiven for thinking the storm is over.

But the Constitutional crisis has entered new and more dangerous territory. Trump has threatened to declare a state of emergency and/or shut down the government again if Congress fails to meet his demands by Feb. 15.

President Trump made a concession, gave in to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to reopen the government before negotiations could begin. Trump’s seeming capitulation means nerve-rending pressures on both sides.

Trump is being portrayed as the loser. He is vilified by his Republican base. His most hard-core supporters adopted his promise of a wall as a divine right, a modern Manifest Destiny.  I can only imagine that he believes he must deliver on his promise to build a border wall, or all is lost for him.

Pelosi and Democrats are portrayed as the winners. Many on the far left are celebrating. The reality is that Pelosi is now under excruciating pressure to negotiate in good faith. Does she have any good faith?

Pelosi will feel pressure even from her own Democrats in the House of Representatives. But Pelosi says she will never agree to build any border structure, anywhere. Many Democrats agree. And of course many Democrats are willing to make at least some concessions, to build a little bit of wall, or a fence. Here, or there.

Let’s talk about it?

How negotiations will play out is totally unpredictable.

In order to resolve the deadlock and end the Constitutional crisis, there must be good-faith negotiations. Compromises must be made. Both sides must give up something in order to achieve compromise, unless one side is willing to accept defeat and declare unconditional surrender. Compromise is essential. See the problem?

What happens if compromise is not reached by Feb. 15?

It’s totally unpredictable. It appears that Trump would have little choice but to declare his emergency, spend money on a wall without Congressional appropriations. Or shut down the government again, and who knows when it would reopen?

Or maybe the deadline could be extended?

Unpredictable negotiations, unpredictable presidential actions. Weeks of uncertainty.

And it probably wasn’t on the front page of your Sunday newspaper. Nothing about the shutdown on Page 1 of the Tampa Bay Times, which claims to be the largest newspaper in the third-largest state. Nothing on page 2A or 3A. Nothing about the shutdown, the temporary truce, the Constitutional crisis. Not until Page 10A, at which point the Tampa Bay Times reports:

“Some national parks open to visitors post-shutdown”

Well, national parks ARE important. The story also reports that airports are returning to normal operation. But the Smithsonian Institution won’t reopen until Tuesday.

So now we know what’s important to Americans, or at least to newspaper editors. National parks, airports, and the Smithsonian.

The callow irresponsibility of the media is as much to blame for this crisis as the actions of politicians. And the American public, with its short attention span, is not interested. The American public has gone shopping, or something.

In the end, we Americans will get what we deserve, whatever that may be.

— John Hayden

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Stand Your Ground And Self-Defense In Florida

Anger over deaths caused by guns is boiling in Florida this summer. And controversy over the “stand your ground” legal principle in the state’s self-defense law is reaching a frenzy.

Please, let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and think about this slowly and carefully. It’s important for us to get the issues and facts straight. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay Times has published on each of the past two days excellent front-page news reports regarding the shooting death at a convenience store in Clearwater and the resulting controversy.

I recommend that everyone read the following two stories from start to finish. Not just the front page but the jump to an inside page. The stories are available on the Times website. Continue reading

New York Times on Florida’s Nature Coast

Finally scored a copy of the New York Times on Friday. I have been sorely missing reading a good newspaper since I moved to Florida. (The Tampa Bay Times is OK, probably better than most  surviving metro dailies. But it is NOT the New York Times or the Washington Post.)

Publix in my neighborhood carries the New York Times, in theory. But only a few copies are delivered to the store, and they are snapped up quickly. As you may know, I’m not exactly an early riser. So the Times is always sold out for me. I’ve been told the customer service desk gets frequent requests from people who would like the store to hold a copy of the NYT. Far more requests than they can honor. I have yet to find any store in my area that carries The Washington Post. I like to think you could find the Times or the Post in Miami, maybe even in downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg.

But where I live, a little north of Tampa- St. Pete, no. Seems to me, this is a growing suburban area. Maybe the farthest northern reach of the Tampa Bay suburbs, but also the far southern tip of Florida’s more sparsely populated Nature Coast. Off the map as a prime newspaper circulation area. Despite the general decline in daily newspaper readership, the New York Times is definitely still in demand here in Florida. The demand is not being matched by supply. Maybe I can do something about that?

— John

Washington Post Partners With TRAVELZOO

Update on thecapitoldeal.com, an innovative new service brought to you by the formerly great newspaper, The Washington Post. Now owned by Jeff Bezos.

“Ramen and cocktails for two” is the featured Capitol Deal today. Usually $56; via Capitol Deal, only $29!

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Stop The Presses! Forget About News! Advertising Delivered Direct To Your Inbox!

The Washington Post Business section for Sunday Jan. 12, 2014 was ALL BUSINESS, I’m happy to report.

After this blog’s unkind criticism of the Sunday business section last week, it’s only fair to note the impressive week-over-week improvement.

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A Homeless Guy, A Billionaire, And A Dumpster. Be Happy.

blue dumpster

So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a bar . . .

Sorry, let me start over. So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a dumpster . . .

One more time. A rich guy and a homeless guy walk into The Washington Post . . .

America is officially a “Tale of Two Cities,” as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The grand canyon between extreme wealth and abject poverty has grown so wide and deep that we have lost all perspective. We have become indifferent and uncaring.

It’s common for the rich, especially, to believe that poor people choose to be poor. The rich imagine the poor are HAPPY.

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Cartoonist Takes Over Business Section Of Newspaper

Of course you want to be happy in 2014! Doesn’t everybody?

Let me save you some time and eyestrain. Don’t bother reading the “happiness” story referred to in the previous post.

I won’t even name the formerly great newspaper. It’s too embarrassing. (Hint: The newspaper’s flag at one time included the words “And Times-Herald.” Jeff Bezos owns the paper now.)

To his credit, the author of the piece, Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” is totally, completely honest.

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Mary Corey, Editor Of The Baltimore Sun

Mary Corey, leader of The Baltimore Sun newsroom, died Tuesday of breast cancer. She was 49.

Ms. Corey had worked at the newspaper since graduating from college. She rose through the ranks as a reporter and editor. In 2010, she was appointed to the newspaper’s top editorial position, directing both print and online editions.

An obituary may be found in today’s editions of The Sun.

Power In A Box: Cannon Power Shot SX160

CANNON POWER SHOT SX 160 — WHENEVER I’M BUYING NEW TECHNOLOGY, I ALWAYS WONDER: “DOES EVERYTHING I NEED COME IN THE BOX?” IN THIS CASE ‘YES,’ ALTHOUGH A PROTECTIVE CARRYING CASE WOULD BE A NICE ADDITION.

You want to know what an obsolete bachelor’s degree  feels like? Long time ago, as part of my journalism major at University of Maryland, I took a class on news photography. Although 135 mm film and Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras were state of the art in the 1960s, the journalism class provided us with older Yashika Mat cameras.

Today, I unboxed the very latest Canon digital camera. It can make an amateur photographer like me feel like a pro! Photography has come a long, long, way since I took that class.

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“Freshly Pressed” Insider’s Report

Being “Freshly Pressed” is the best thing that can happen to a blogger, short of going viral. (But it doesn’t put you in a class with Adrianna Huffington or Matt Drudge.) Human beings thrive on recognition and affirmation.

Freshly Pressed  focused my attention. It prompted some overdue housekeeping around the blog, clean-up and improvements that are hopefully invisible to the reader.

It also reminded me of the largeness of the digital world. One little blog is like a star in a galaxy, or sand on a beach. Though insignificant in the grand scheme of things, one blog can shine light in the darkness, or  — like a grain of sand — irritate the complacent and powerful.

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