Tag: trump administration

Was Kaepernick’s First Amendment Right Violated?

Could President Trump’s actions around the National Anthem protests have violated Colin Kaepernick’s freedom of speech?

NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is less known for his abilities as a football player, and more for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality — and the ire that has drawn from President Trump and various members of his administration, both on television and on Twitter.

NFL flag

Despite being a skilled quarterback, one of the best in the league, Kaepernick has not played a single game since 1 Jan 2017. Currently a free agent, he is free to be signed by any team, but in the last 2 seasons, no one has. A few teams initially showed interest but backed out after he refused to promise that he would end his national anthem protest.

Kaepernick is suing, alleging that Trump’s comments and private conversations with NFL owners lead them to blacklist him. His legal team is interested in the content and spirit of these discussions, as well as discover if the administration put pressure on the NFL. Depending on their findings, they might attempt to subpoena the President and other officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

While NFL executives have admitted that Trump influenced their new anthem policy, that doesn’t mean he influenced it directly, or that he has influenced any other decisions by the league.

If Kaepernick’s allegations are true, it would mean that members of the Trump administration, including the President himself, violated his right to free speech. A government official is barred from using the power or influence of their office to stifle political expression or to punish those who express themselves politically. Things could get complicated from there.

 

Rex Tillerson

While Rex Tillerson is not a celebrity in a traditional sense, he is important as well as interesting. While he is best known for being Secretary of State in the early part of the Trump administration and a long-term CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson is active well beyond that, in both a professional and philanthropic capacity.  And, while it may surprise some because of his business background, he shows a strong sense of both justice and moral duty.

For these reasons, Tillerson has served on what seems to be an endless series of committees and boards. Many of these are not well known publically, and so information on the time and duration of his contributions, as well as what those contributions actually are, seem impossible to track down in any specific way. Where possible, I will be sending out rounds of emails and letters to try to determine this information, and provide updates as available.

Views on Climate Change

One thing about Tillerson that might surprise a good number of people are his views on climate change. While he makes no comment the effects that human activity have on observed global changes in climate and weather patterns, he readily acknowledges that they exist, and that dealing with the situation is important for the world moving forward.

In fact, during his time as CEO of ExxonMobil, he encouraged the organization as a whole to acknowledge the facts around this issue, and to conduct research into the changes which are occurring globally, what can be done about them, as well as investments into “alternative” energy sources, including the conversion of algae into oil (currently the subject of an ExxonMobil TV commercial).

And, perhaps even more surprising to some, are his views surrounding Carbon Tax and the Paris Agreement. He heartily and openly supports both, understanding that measures which only target one country or group of countries will, in the end, prove to be ineffective. As this is a global issue, with global contributors, it requires a global solution. Countries which are currently industrialized do not produce the highest emissions, but instead, countries which are in the process of industrialization, such as China or India. Therefore, any meaningful solutions must cover most, if not all, nations.

Ties with Russia

It’s no secret, and there is absolutely no question, that Rex Tillerson has deep business ties with Russia. He himself is quite open about the fact, and it was central to many of the questions asked during his confirmation hearing. These ties began well before he became CEO of the company. His contact with Russia probably began in the period where he served as president of Exxon Yemen starting in 1995, but are obvious beginning in 1998 when he became responsible for operations in Russia and the Caspian Sea.

It has been reported that the relationship between Putin and Tillerson began during Yeltsin’s presidency. Since his presidency was 1991-1999, and Tillerson began very active participation in the Russian scene starting in 1998, that they most likely became closely acquainted in the 1998-1999 period.

Additionally, Exxon owns a “summer home” which is very close to one owned by Igor Sechin who is the leader of the Kremlin’s siloviki, and has been described as the second-most powerful man in Russia (Putin being the first). Due to the proximity of the homes, Tillerson visited Sechin often.

All three of these men have worked together to craft agreements in regards to oil drilling within Russia. Tillerson has opposed sanctions against Russia, and in fact, has even been awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin for his contributions to the development of the oil industry in Russia.

Further Information

For a more detailed overview of Rex Tillerson, I have created a 5-page document which highlights important relationships and organizations to which he belongs, including the name of positions he held in Exxon and the timing of these positions.

Click Here for Rex Tillerson Overview