Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Tag

Down With Freedom Of Speech!   Leave a comment

New York TimesThe pesky Constitution. Because of it, everything is getting confused. And Freedom of Speech? Impossible. It’s wrong, too. Just ask the New York Times.

They’re subtle about it. But they ran an article September 17 explaining how political fund-raising in New Jersey is side-stepping the law. What they didn’t say is that the fund-raising was completely supported by a Supreme Court ruling this year.

Apparently the Times thought it important to note how awful it is that political fund-raising isn’t done the way they would like. Apparently, they don’t support Freedom of Speech … if it’s not their kind of Freedom of Speech, that is.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey

The article is about how government contractors are giving political donations to New Jersey’s Governor Christie through an association he’s managing, not directly to his campaign. Here’s what they said:

Not a single check was written to Mr. Christie’s campaign. Indeed, some of those in attendance were legally prohibited from doing so, because they had sizable contracts with state agencies and were therefore barred by New Jersey law from making large contributions to the governor.

Instead, the donors wrote checks for as much as $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association, an organization Mr. Christie helps lead that has collected $1.65 million from New Jersey donors during the first six months of the year.

The association has, in turn, poured $1.7 million into Mr. Christie’s re-election effort, with television advertisements attacking State Senator Barbara Buono, his Democratic opponent in the election this year.

Mr. Christie’s close relationship with the association provides a playbook for how carefully choreographed independent spending campaigns can undermine the rules meant to curtail the political influence of government contractors; New Jersey’s pay-to-play law strictly limits the participation of state contractors in political giving.

Perhaps the New Jersey lawmakers don’t like the Supreme Court decision, but that decision pointedly affirmed the right of corporations to engage in political speech. From the Harvard Law Review:

The Supreme Court spoke clearly this Term on the issue of corporate political speech, concluding in Citizens United v. FEC that the First Amendment protects corporations’ freedom to spend corporate funds on indirect support of political candidates. Constitutional law scholars will long debate the wisdom of that holding, as do the authors of the two other Comments in this issue. In contrast, this Comment accepts as given that corporations may not be limited from spending money on politics should they decide to speak.

And that’s about perfect. Debate is healthy. You can disagree with the Supreme Court ruling. But, it is the law of the land.

To showcase politicians that you don’t agree with as engaging in shady, against-the-law practices that are legal is just preaching sour grapes. The Times doesn’t say that Christie is breaking the law. The article even says that his opponent is using the same funding mechanism. However, it’s clear that the Times is against the practice and implies that the Governor is doing fund raising against the laws of New Jersey.

Which he’s not, as New Jersey in all of its power cannot make free speech illegal. Not even in New Jersey.

Note: none of this should be construed as support for or posturing against Governor Christie or his opponent. I’m not commenting on New Jersey politics, just on the right of people and corporations in New Jersey to have Freedom of Speech. Hopefully, the New York Times will soon join me in supporting this philosophy.

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Harvard Law Review: Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides?

New York Times: Donors Funds Sidestep Law, Aiding Christie

“Secret Blanket Surveillance”   2 comments

For your consideration, Michael Moore on the left & Glenn Beck on the right. As always.

For your consideration, film maker Michael Moore on the left & media personality Glenn Beck on the right. As always.

Glenn Beck:

“I think I have just read about the man for which I have waited. Earmarks of a real hero.”

Michael Moore:

“HERO OF THE YEAR: NSA tech assistant reveals he is the source of stories on U.S. Gov’t domestic spying.”

It is a very rare day when Glenn Beck and Michael Moore agree on anything. What do they agree on here? That Edward Snowden – the guy who leaked the information about the NSA court order to receive all of the Verizon “telephony metadata” – they agree he is a hero for defying orders of secrecy. This is the same guy that some people are urging should get the death penalty for releasing government secrets.

For your consideration, President Obama on the left and Congressman Rand Paul on the right. As always.

For your consideration, President Obama on the left and Congressman Rand Paul on the right. As always.

Rand Paul:

“I have no problem if you have probable cause and you target people who are terrorists and you go after them and people that they’re communicating with, you get another warrant.

“But we’re talking about trolling through billions of phone records. We’re not talking about going after a terrorist. I’m all for that. Get a warrant and go after a terrorist, or a murderer or a rapist.   But don’t troll through a billion phone records every day. That is unconstitutional, it invades our privacy and I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at then somebody will wake up and say things will change in Washington.”

President Barack Obama:

“You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.”

For your consideration, former Vice President Al Gore on the left and Glenn Beck again on the right. As always.

For your consideration, former Vice President Al Gore on the left and media personality Glenn Beck again on the right. As always … but here, they’re on the same side.

Glenn Beck:

We must NOT trade liberty for security any longer or we will lose both and deserve neither.

Al Gore:

In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?

Senators Merkley & Reid

For your consideration, Senators Jeff Merkley and Harry Reid. Both are Democrats. Merkley is on the left, but you’ll have to figure out who should be on the left & right here.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

“The type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada)

“Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand this isn’t anything that’s brand new.”

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This is one of those rare issues these days that is not about right or left. It’s about right and wrong.

 

Obama and Reid are stating the government’s position clearly: the federal government thinks it should monitor EVERYONE. You know, because that way they just might find someone doing a bad thing. So let’s monitor EVERYONE.

 

A part of this discussion, I believe, is that Verizon uses cellphone technology, which uses the “public airwaves” – Verizon is licensed to use a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which belongs to the public. They are licensed to use this spectrum just as radio and TV stations are. I believe that’s why the government sought the “public” information broadcast over those airwaves in the Verizon court order. Public information, such as a picture taken of you when you are walking down a public sidewalk, is fair game. But private information, like who an innocent person is calling? That’s exactly what the government is gathering – that we know about. We don’t know what other data they are gathering.

 

How much does this cost? Don’t know. How many terror plots has it already prevented? Don’t know. Is it constitutional? Don’t know.

 

But do I like it? No.

 

The only quote shown above that I really agree with is Rand Paul’s. (…and that’s the only time I’ve ever said that.)

 

I cannot state that Snowden is a hero at this point. He took the law into his own hands, and revealed a secret program that a federal court had judged to be legal. It is not heroic to tell the government’s secrets — and the Supreme Court may still rule that the telephony metadata was appropriately obtained. We don’t know.

 

Harry Reid’s comment is laughable, I think. We should tolerate the program because it’s old news?  Riiiight.

 

However, I don’t see that the program is outrageous, or obscenely outrageous. The government isn’t listening to the calls, and they’re not getting recordings of the calls. They are (apparently) just getting information about the calls.

 

I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s wrong.

 

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