Archive for the ‘New York Times’ 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.


Harvard Law Review: Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides?

New York Times: Donors Funds Sidestep Law, Aiding Christie

The Week That Was   3 comments

Random Thoughts In A Random World

1.  Detroit is going bankrupt, government dawdles

The cash will run out as soon as this month.  The result of this bureaucratic gridlock could be the largest municipal bankruptcy ever.

The city can’t overcome the white flight that has lowered the tax base.  Now, it’s trying to fix crushing problems with no money.  Oh, and apparently its island is sinking, too. The New York Times offers no solutions.

All of those residents and businesses that fled the city aren’t coming back. City government? Still fiddling around while the cash is almost gone. Irresponsibility in governance is everywhere it seems.

2. No more Saturday mail, government dawdles

This issue has been around for a while … the US Postal Service could save billions by not delivering on Saturday.  The USPS announced Wednesday they were unilaterally ending Saturday delivery, because Congress hasn’t told them they can’t do that this year.  Previously, Congress has always specifically blocked the initiative, which they still could.  For now, however, they haven’t said NO, so the Postmaster General has taken the initiative.

This week’s LA Times editorial blames the Republicans for mandating the USPS fund the retirement program for its employees.  The vicious plot imagined by the LA Times is not seen by the Washington Post, which observes the bureaucratic nightmare is the problem:

Like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians, this supposedly independent, self-supporting entity answers to a presidentially appointed board, Congress, several labor unions and a regulatory commission — not to mention the demands of corporate mailers and, last but not least, the general public.

But what’s really to blame?  Revenues are down 37% over the last 5 years.  Losses last year were $15.9 billion.  Any business – any business – would struggle with losing over a third of its revenue over 5 years.  Add in a rigid cost structure with bureaucratic oversight, and you’ve got a mess.  And we do.

Who’s for ending Saturday delivery?  According to the NY Times, the American people.  And, the Obama administration.

Here’s a piece from George Will about the controversy when we ended Sunday delivery – and it was just as controversial.

Personally, I am a supporter of sending and receiving mail, but have no problem with 5-day delivery to save money. As the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there … and soon, you’re talking real money.

3. 92% of electronic data is under two years old

Let that statement sink in a minute.

Almost all electronic information – 92% – has been created in the last two years. Imagine the profound differences in our world when data mining matures as a business.  Feeling like you have lost some privacy?  You ain’t seen nothing yet. And the perspective of one of the chief data miners is that by marrying databases, we aren’t even losing privacy, as it’s all anonymous!

Personalized ads are already popping up on cellphones and news feeds everywhere.  It’s just a matter of time until that personalization adds geographic proximity and we’re confronted with ads from nearby stores specifically targeting us based on past behavior.  We saw that in the 2002 film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise.  It was frightening then, and it’ll be frightening when it’s “normal.”

Gian Fulgoni was a co-founder of comScore; he’s definitely on the leading edge of getting this massive amount of data to work for companies.  To see what he’s thinking about, read this fascinating piece about the priorities and progression of data, here.

4. Congressional drones object to the President’s drones

Here’s what the Washington Post has to say on the topic, here. And, some other views….

President's Drones

More Drones Needed

Here’s to next week being better for us all!

Journalism, I Mourn For Thee (part 1)   3 comments

I haven’t yet paid money for an electronic publication.  Have you?

I do pay dollars for print publications … but then, I’m old.  Older than the average reader of newspapers, come to find out.  Look at the demographics of newspaper readership, here.

But do I pay digital dimes for electronic media?  No.

Mobile pennies?  No way.

And that’s the problem with journalism today.  We as a society are reading newspapers less and less.  We are subscribing less and less.  Revenues are falling.  Quickly.

Are we paying money for electronic media as a substitute?  Not so much.  So who is paying for the journalists?

The easy answer is not enough people. That’s why newspapers are shrinking or closing all together.

We’re all quick to throw rocks at bad journalism … I was fascinated by the Manti Te’o stories over the last couple of days.  Mr. Te’o struck up an internet romance with a young lady, apparently, except it wasn’t a  real lady.  And then she died.  Or maybe she never existed, but Mr. Te’o thought she did.  It’s very confusing.  Here’s the New York Times summary, here.

In any event, there were several media critics eager to blame the other journalists that believed the story and ran it without verifying that there was an actual dead woman.  In this era of journalistic cutbacks, it’s easy to understand how sports journalists weren’t seeking out funeral homes to verify there was a body to match the alleged tragedy of a premiere football player.  But is it excusable?

Wacky times.

Bottom line is this:  we no longer have a reliable press corps that is seeking truth in every thing they report before they report it.  “Get it right, first” is no longer the slogan to live by.  Perhaps now it’s “Get it, then revise it, then update it, then apologize if you had errors.”

And by not subscribing to electronic publications, we’re not helping the big media companies pay for better journalists.

I don’t watch TV news much (meaning never outside of special coverage) … so I’m not helping the networks by watching their ads, either.

And for those journalists still fortunate enough to have a job, we have a media savvy elite that’s not cooperating. Did you know President Obama had fewer press conferences in his first term than Clinton or either of the Bushes?  He’s not talking to journalists much … and he’s hand picking those he will talk to.  At those somewhat rare press conferences, he called on ABC correspondents twice as often as he called on Fox correspondents.

I understand wanting to avoid hostile questions … but is he also avoiding discussing alternative views by not talking to journalists that don’t support him?

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

%d bloggers like this: