Month: May 2012

George Orwell rolls in his grave: Adam Smith and domestic propaganda

Grave of Eric Arthur Blair aka George OrwellIf you’re not from Washington State, you might only know of Adam Smith for sponsoring HR 4192 – Due Process and Military Detention Amendments Act, a laudable act, to be sure. While it was hardly major news in March when he introduced the bill, news of his sponsorship piggy-backed on the momentous occasion of US District Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling that, “that Section 1021 of NDAA was facially unconstitutional — a rare finding — because of the potential that it could violate the 1st Amendment” (LA Times, May 18, 2012). Smith gets his mention way down at the bottom (similarly in coverage elsewhere, as well). Sadly, his attempt to protect citizens from indefinite military detention without due process failed 182-238.

Late Friday the 18th, however, BuzzFeed broke the news that the same Adam Smith would like you to believe that: (more…)

New National Defense Authorization Act, old NDAA, and Waffler-in-Chief Obama on the issue of indefinite detention

Rights Detained/Man behind bars superimposed over ConstitutionBreaking news re: the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that President Obama signed under cover of the New Year festivities in hopes that a hungover populace would maybe not notice. This might just put a wrinkle in the 2013 NDAA that goes up for a vote in the House today (Thursday, May 17, 2012).

“The government was given a number of opportunities at the hearing and in its briefs to state unambiguously that the type of expressive and associational activities engaged in by plaintiffs — or others — are not within Section 1021,” Forrest said. “It did not. This court therefore must credit the chilling impact on First Amendment rights as reasonable — and real.”


Online news: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette shows how to make paywalls just plain tacky

Brick wallSo, here it is, Saturday morning, and I’m scanning the headlines through Google Reader while downing my second cup of java. There’s lots of news in which to be interested, of course. Most of it I can just click on and, voila, there it is. Now and again I’ll bump into a paywall. That’s okay (or maybe it isn’t?).  The publishers need to make a buck somehow, right?

But what about this?

Washington Can’t Be Fixed
from Arkansas Online stories by Richard L. Hasen in Slate

I’m game. (more…)

Forget free speech. What does clicking "Like" on Facebook even mean?

Parental Advisory: Explicit SemanticsOn Friday, the Chicago Tribune posted an AP article by Brock Vergakis about a recent federal court decision as to whether “liking” a page on Facebook constitutes free speech. In brief, employees “liked” a competitor’s Facebook page. The employer (a sheriff running for re-election) fired them. Fired employees sue. Plaintiff’s claim, paraphrased? “Our first amendment rights have been violated.”

Now, as anyone who reads even a little of my occasional screed knows, I’m a huge fan of free speech. I love that I live in a nation where I am free to say or express whatever comes to mind within certain reasonable bounds. (more…)