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Obama Violates the First Amendment

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Well known Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black once stated, “I am for the First Amendment from the first word to the last. I believe it means what it says.” In part, what it says is that, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” To prove how serious the authors of the Bill of Rights were about this indispensable freedom, they gave Americans the ability to defend the right by force if necessary in the very next Amendment. Even given the historic support from the high court for the First Amendment and the means to defend it given by the Founders, this past week the Obama administration violated its oath to uphold the Constitution by issuing a decree abridging the First Amendment right to speech.

In a memo to private health insurers from a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Obama administration issued a decree ordering them to stop informing Medicare beneficiaries that health reform legislation before Congress could hurt them and curtail their benefits if enacted. The memo went on to say that the government might take legal action against insurers that are mobilizing opposition to the legislation by sending “misleading and confusing” messages to seniors.

Say what you will about insurance companies, this is by no means a defense of them. It is instead a rebuke of an administration that is playing fast and loose with basic rights guaranteed to all Americans, including corporations. In the United States, corporations are separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals. Humana has as much right to speak out for or against federal legislation as I do. Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have no power to abridge Humana’s right to free speech. Obama should know this, given that he is a constitutional lawyer.

Secondly, the decree smacks of fascism. Corporations do not exist in America to serve the interests of the state. Obama has this collectivist mindset, a lot like the previous administration, “you are for us or against us.” Any discord with the Administration’s positions and you may find yourself threatened with legal action. Perhaps the President is confused. Maybe he has let his takeover and running of GM, Chrysler, and AIG cloud his vision and he now thinks that he can dictate the terms of existence for all American companies. Unfortunately, few members of his own party have expressed any discomfort with the decree. In fact, Democratic Senator Max Baucus has urged HHS to crack down on the mailings. Not only is our government not listening to the people, it is now also attempting to stifle the peoples’ dissent.

Of course, attempting to litigate any company which disobeyed the gag order would end in defeat for the administration. There is no precedence for restricting speech against government legislation. Even inaccurate or misleading speech is protected. But, to top it all off, the information Humana peddled to seniors was actually accurate. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill released last week in the Senate by Baucus would cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans by about $139 billion over 10 years. Certainly, this significant a cut in funding would result in reduced benefits for seniors. If the Humana information were misleading, at least Obama could appear to be taking a stand against deceit and chicanery. This would be somewhat admirable. But because the information is true, he simply looks like a despot.

In 1906, Evelyn Beatrice Hall said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.” Taking the presidential oath of office to defend the Constitution is equivalent to Hall’s statement. But  the current president apparently has no problem not only shirking his duty, but violating it. It’s no wonder his approval rating continues to drop and Americans are taking to the streets in the millions to protest his policies. After all, Americans are not asking Obama to give his life for free speech just to respect it, even when it disagrees with his policies.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • “It’s no wonder his approval rating continues to drop and Americans are taking to the streets in the millions to protest his policies.”

    I’m not going to address the main thread of the article at this point because I don’t know what your sources are, and I have heard nothing about this. However, The first part of the quote above is actually wrong according to the latest polls, and the second part is at best grossly over stated. No “millions” have taken to the street. Even the Washington 9/12 gathering – the largest of all of them – had less than an estimated 100,000 in attendance unless, of course, if you chose to believe Glen Beck who put the number at something like half a million or more. In so doing he actually mis-quoted an estimate released by ABC news which claimed only something in the 10s of thousands. Or to say it another way, he lied.

    Again, Obama’s numbers are currently either holding steady or going up depending on which poll you choose to quote. And, even a majority of Republicans claimed to support the public option for health care insurance.

    Well, I guess you wouldn’t want the facts to get in the way of a good rant.


  • Kenn Jacobine

    According to Pew Research, in April, 62% of the public approved of Barack Obama’s performance as president and 26% disapproved. In August, just four months later, 52% approved of Obama’s job performance while 37% disapproved. I think these numbers speak for themselves.

    In totality, if you include all Tea Parties and other protests around the country there are millions of Americans protesting Obama.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think these numbers speak for themselves.

    Do you have any idea how fickle presidential approval ratings are?

    Half those people are indeed protesting Obama, too, not his policies, not his intentions. They’re protesting him.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Oh, and maybe just one teensy little link in the article would be good to, y’know, provide a source for people curious about what a “senior official” said in a “memo.” It’s not that I doubt what you’re claiming, as all presidents violate most of your little amendments all the time (isn’t it about time you guys updated those things?). It’s just that I can’t seem to find out where you’re getting this from and it’s quite a hefty accusation from abroad.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Neeevermind, found something:

    This article in the Washington Post refers to it and to Republicans calling it a “gag order.”

    Apparently the memo was sent to Humana, specifically, and states the belief that the mega insurer was misleading people on Medicare. According to the Post, HHS “ordered them to stop and said they could face enforcement action for violating restrictions on communications between Medicare health plans and their members.”

    If you read on in the article, you find a statement from an HHS spokesperson that essentially raises the issue that they believe these communications from the insurance company violated CMS regulations. In other words, the personal information of some senior citizens was used inappropriately.

    Of course, to Republicans this is all a violation of freedom of speech. You should be able to say whatever you want to whomever you want, even if it violates their privacy and desire to not be exposed to outright falsehoods.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    Not sure where you were going with this,

    “all presidents violate most of your little amendments all the time (isn’t it about time you guys updated those things?).”

    Are you actually saying the First Amendment is insignificant and needs changing??

  • Jordan Richardson

    Are you actually saying the First Amendment is insignificant and needs changing??

    Insignificant? Where are you getting that? Because I said “little amendments?” I do believe that your country makes an awful lot of out what is a “given” in other developed nations, yes. I could do without the trumpeting and the fanfare as relates to your amendments, but that’s not something I’m overly concerned with.

    I think I was pretty clear in saying that the amendments could be updated/changed, yes. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve said this around here, either.

    The Founding Fathers, bless their slave-driving hearts, couldn’t possibly have seen this far ahead and generally didn’t expect the amendments to go without ever adapting for changing times.

    To suggest that any document should be written in stone and thus interpreted as an undeniable statute for the rest of the life of the nation is a little archaic and ignorant to the natural evolution of time and society, I think.

    Nashville’s First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University conducts a public opinion poll regarding the First Amendment on an annual basis. In the 2000 poll, two out of three American adults said that they favoured the banning of hate speech. Of course, the problem is deciphering what hate speech is.

    Then you’ve got all sorts of other legal corners, including libel and slander laws, that again alter the meaning of the First Amendment in ways that the Founding Fathers never anticipated.

    So yes, it would seem prudent and ultimately practical to clarify the amendment(s).

  • Jordan Richardson

    Let’s pull this back to the Humana issue for a second, though.

    Humana receives federal funding to operate Medicare Advantage, does it not? This means that it must comply with federal law when providing official communications about Medicare Advantage. Therefore, CMS was well within its rights and well within the legal apparatus to proffer a cease and desist. This is no violation of Amendment rights at all.

    Nevermind that Humana has a history of ripping off Medicare or overcharging on government health programs. I guess to guys like Kenn it’s nice that they’re (Humana) trying to convince everybody that they’re actually now on the side of the patient after overcharging them all these years and bilking people out of their money over Medicare.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    In the first place the statist argument that the Constitution is a flexible ever changing document open to new developments is rubbish. What is the purpose of having a written constitution if government can reinterpret it to meet any and all contemporary circumstances? Instead the document has an amendment feature which has worked remarkably well over the years. It was used to ban slavery which yes was regrettably allowed under the original document.

    Secondly, I don’t necessarily count on polls to tell me how to think. Hate speech, as repugnant as it is, is protected free speech. You open a Pandora’s box when you start regulating what people say. What about criticizing public officials or burning the U.S. flag? These matters are best left to the free market. People have a choice whether to read my blog or buy my product based on a lot of factors including my speech and conduct.

    Thirdly, I said specifically in my article that I wasn’t defending insurance companies. But, when you take away the rights of one segment of society you jeopardize the rights of all of us. The information Humana published was accurate according to the CBO.

  • Jordan Richardson

    What is the purpose of having a written constitution if government can reinterpret it to meet any and all contemporary circumstances?

    Good question, as the government does this anyways. I think the first segment of your question is more important. What, indeed, is the point of having a written constitution? What is the point of constantly referencing an archaic document that is in constant need of update and change? It certainly gives some the consistency they thrive on, but something tells me society would not ultimately collapse were we to learn how to change the rules every now and then.

    These matters are best left to the free market.

    Implies there is a free market. You’ll also note that I did not offer the poll to “tell you how to think.” It’s an example of the fluidity of society and public opinion and, in light of your above reference of presidential approval, remains especially relevant here. You suggest the “free market” remains the Decider, so to speak, as to how an allegedly free society operates. Really?

    Hate speech is protected free speech, however it is not protected free speech in cases of defamation or incitement to riot if violence is considered to be imminent (the whole “clear and present danger” thing) or if it incites the commission of lawless behaviour. There’s also greater regulation on “commercial speech,” as you know, and copyright protection.

    One clear example of how speech is regulated by the “free market” is the whole MPAA rating system. While this isn’t a government thing, movies not rated by the MPAA’s ridiculous standards face no release. The MPAA is also among the strictest bodies of censors in all First World countries. But I digress…Pandora’s Box indeed.

    But, when you take away the rights of one segment of society you jeopardize the rights of all of us.

    Humana is a segment of society?

  • Jordan,

    Nice work. I wrote my initial comment at around 2AM and didn’t have the energy to delve into the meat of Kenn’s article.

    I agree with you that under the circumstances as regards Humana, this is NOT a First Ammendment issue. Whether the info that Humana communicated was correct or not, they have contractual obligations which prevent them from biting the hand that feeds them.

    As to whether the info was in fact correct, I bet you could find others who would disavow its accuracy. All such estimates as to how much something of this nature will cost are up for grabs. One side says this, one says that. Nothing has been chiseled in stone as regards health care reform.

    Kenn, Dave and others here have gotten on the fearmongering band wagon repeating anything and everything they hear (or imagine they hear) through whatever twisted grape vine they subscribe to.

    Their dislike of Obama and their anger at having lost so badly last November has effectively destroyed any sense of propriety and honesty they may have possessed prior.

    It enrages them that Obama is both highly intelligent and articulate. They felt far more comfortable with a president who clearly possessed neither intelligence nor communicative skills – sort of like a pet.


  • “What, indeed, is the point of having a written constitution? What is the point of constantly referencing an archaic document that is in constant need of update and change? It certainly gives some the consistency they thrive on, but something tells me society would not ultimately collapse were we to learn how to change the rules every now and then.”

    Good point, Jordan. Perhaps it’s the need the Yanks feel to anchor their Empire in the past – a fixed and immutable past – precisely because they have none to speak of (when compared to other nations).

    The Brits seem to be doing well pretty good without a written document. Are they also as handicapped as we are when it comes to adopting to change as we are?

  • “They felt far more comfortable with a president who clearly possessed neither intelligence nor communicative skills.”

    You forgot the most important point: and he ain’t white.

  • Which would make ’em all foam with envy and inferiority complex.

  • I don’t particularly think that Obama is the greatest gift from heaven; but I’m certain that he’d outscore the average town-hall protester by at least 20 IQ points.

    And the worst thing of it is – the whitey knows it.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Clearly, you guys have not retained my blogs longterm. When Bush was president I called him a war criminal, usurper, violator of constitutional rights, and liar. The problem is not any one person or party it is the two party oligopoly we have in this country masquarading as a political system. If Obama is to be defended and Humana is greedy then why doesn’t he pull their mouth off the federal teet himself – cut all funding? Get over it guys, your hero, Obama is no better than Bush. federal bailouts to the rich, a secret war in Pakistan, and violating our constitutional rights. I haven’t heard that Washington has repealed the Patriot Act since Obama took office? Have you.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    And of course Roger, being the typical liberal, has to throw in that I am a racist because he has no other intellectual ground to stand on.

  • I am neither typical nor a liberal. And the “whitey” epithet wasn’t directed at you.

    Why would you assume that?

  • Goes to show, Kenn, how little discriminating you are. It would seem that you, much more than I, can’t escape thinking in rigidly-defined, narrow categories.

    I thought you are an educator.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    In context the following quote of yours implies my attack on Obama is racially motivated:

    “You forgot the most important point: and he ain’t white.”

  • Wrong. I was addressing Jordan.

    I believe the subject sentence in #13 was an excerpt from Jordan’s comment.

  • Pardon me. Baritone’s (#11).

    Same difference.

  • Doug Hunter

    Roger, your #13 and #15 surprise me. I thought you might be in agreement with me that this line of reasoning just pisses people off and has little to do with the issues at hand. Or perhaps we’ll have to settle for this level of discourse until we get a nice safe white candidate in office and we can return to discussing issues.

    Either way, I think it’d be an eye opening exercise to scan back through blogcritics articles and see just exactly who is concerned with Obama’s race. I’d like to see who in the article or in the comments section brought up race, racism, or skin color (black/white) first in regards to Obama. I have my suspicions of who does it and I also have a gut feeling of why. Perhaps there is material for my first article there.

  • Have you actually read the First Amendment because your whole premise is wrong since the Obama Administration is not Congress?

  • I’ve done it on purpose, Doug. Let the cat come out of the bag.

    Anyway, it’s just another tack. And thus far, it seems to work. Think of it as a strategy. For unless you piss someone off, and royally, perhaps you’ll never learn what they really think.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    The Founders never envisioned our president would have the powers he has today. His role was narrowly defined in the Constitution and didn’t come any where close to touching issues like free speech under the First Amendment. Congress is the legislative branch – thus the protection against legislation to abridge free speech. In the history of the country, the Bill of Rights have always been meant to restrict the powers of the government as a whole.

  • There is of plenty of other things the Founders haven’t envisaged. How could they?

  • Doug Hunter

    Piss people off as a strategy to make them think… never heard of it.

    Some of it, as in your case, may be to induce thinking but other times I feel it is to preclude the same. If you can make it about race then you’re spared grappling with the real issues and can rest easy, assured of your moral rightness. That’s common and easy and we all fall prey to it now and then, but it’s also a logical fallacy.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    That is why we can amend the Constitution and why we have federalism – whereby other levels of gov’t have jurisdiction over issues that change over time. A great example is traffic control. There were no cars in 1787, but the responsibility falls on the states to regulate auto licensure, roads, traffic laws, etc…

  • Not to make ’em think, Doug. Some of them haven’t done it in years. To make ’em say what they think.

    Do you find my provocative comments more outrageous than, say, those of Archie (like him as I do)? For if you do, you should really think about it.

  • I understand. I was only suggesting that “what the Founders did not anticipate” oughtn’t to be used in a one-directional argument.

    It cuts both ways.

  • Doug Hunter

    I think Jordan brings up another unenvisioned point in #8

    “Humana receives federal funding to operate Medicare Advantage, does it not?”

    This is one of the issues with the growth and expansion of government scope. There are more established rules protecting private indivuals and companies from government tyranny, but slowly what is government and what is private has been becoming less and less distinct.

    At some point, if the government has it’s hand in funding and subsidizing every business and every individual do the constitutional protections then not apply to anyone? These are issues we need to discuss as this is the direction we seem to be headed. How can we make sure that when the government sticks it’s hands in more areas, those areas are still afforded the protections they currently have from abuse?

  • Doug Hunter


    No, you’re just normally very polite and judicious so it seems out of character for you. I thought I held the title for most provocative style, I’ll have to work on it.

    Glenn won’t even talk with me anymore, but if I know human nature, he won’t be able to contain himself when I criticize his next article. He’s too much like me, can’t let it go.. or not, we shall see. I’m looking forward to it, the battle in his mind between the desire to keep his word about not responding to me versus his powerful drive to prove me wrong. Immovable object, unstoppable force.

  • Doug,

    If you reread the comment thread, I think you should see that I haven’t addressed anyone on BC. I’ve sort picked on on Baritone’s last line (comment #11) and ran with it.

    Sort of like taking a thought to its natural, logical conclusion. That’s all.

  • “Say what you will about insurance companies, this is by no means a defense of them. It is instead a rebuke of an administration that is playing fast and loose with basic rights guaranteed to all Americans, including corporations. In the United States, corporations are separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals.”

    Separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals?

    Perhaps we should question this proposition. Ought they to?

  • And that a more general kind of point that Jordan raised (concerning Humana).

  • Sorry, Jordan.

    “Humana is a segment of society?” – you ask appropriately.

  • Clavos

    All the amateur psychoanalyzing of the motives and erstwhile insecurities of Obama’s opponents would be amusing if weren’t such a transparent ploy to avoid dealing with the issues raised by dehumanizing the opposition.

  • I wasn’t commenting at all on Kenn’s motivation.

  • Clavos

    Neither was I…

  • But the notion of corporation’s free speech rights is an interesting one, especially when it’s not subject to capital punishment.

  • Clavos

    Actually, when you think about it, corporations are nonpunishable on any level.

  • Do you mean B’s amateurishness, in terms of Obama’s alleged superiority and how some whites might feel about it?

    I found it kind of interesting. There might be something to it.

  • Except when they can be brought to a bankruptcy.

  • It’s a heck of a legal edifice. A monument to the genius of Western legal thought. And I understand the idea goes back even to ancient Rome.

  • Clavos

    Except when they can be brought to a bankruptcy.

    What happens then? Does the corporation suffer? How do you know, does it cry out? Weep?

  • Not that I know of. But it gets buried, unless it’s bailed out.

  • Clavos

    But not punished.

  • It was when the antitrust legislation was enforced.

  • Clavos

    Not the point, Roger. You can’t “punish” a corporation.

  • Not corporally.

  • I have a feeling I’m being shunned for having used the “whitey” expression.

    I didn’t know it was a taboo.

  • Doug Hunter

    Can anyone tell me how to sign my S-corp up for food stamps?

  • I don’t know about food stamps, but you might be entitled to subsidies.

  • Stickler

    The article states:

    “basic rights guaranteed to all Americans, including corporations. In the United States, corporations are separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals.”

    Not true.

    Nowhere in the constitution does it even suggest that corps have the same rights as people.

    There is a vague notion of “Corporate Personhood”, mostly for the purpose of fixing liability, in court tradition, but there is no enabling legislation and no SCOTUS precedent.

    The oft cited 1886 case of Southern Pacific v. Santa Clara County is simply mis-cited: NOTHING in the decision suggests such things, and the only mention is in a “Headnote” composed after the court decision (by a Railroad sympathizer) and “headnotes” do not have force of law, they are simply introductory.

    Corporations do NOT have the same rights as people.

    Indeed, how could they? A corp is NOT a person.

  • But that seems to be the thrust of the article, that a corporation has been denied the right to free speech.

  • Stickler

    A corporation does not have a right of free speech, for the simple reason that it is not a person.

    Obama, a Constitutional lawyer knows that. The author, Jacobine, is NOT a constitutional lawyer, thus his ignorance.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    So I guess labor unions are different than corporations – they have freedom of speech as they endorse candidates and criticize or support legislation all the time. Many times their rank and file do not agree with the decisions but they do it anyway. What is the difference? Of course most unions are very supportive of big gov’t candidates so it is o.k.

    Does this mean the UAW can’t endorse at the next election because they are business partner’s (receiving federal funds) with Uncle Sam? How about ACORN? They receive federal funds but speak out all the time. Let’s not forget that corporations are the entities that provide the real jobs in this country.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Has anyone noticed that NO conservative – not the author of the article nor those defending his article – linked to even ONE source proving their claims?

    Not a single one.

    How many times have I asked for references? Many, many, many…but (with few exceptions) the conservatives simply don’t like to provide references. This has become the norm of their operation. They want us to believe what they say, never mind that they canNOT back up what they say. They’re conservative, therefore it’s rude to actually ask for proof of their claims, I guess.

    I guess Baritone called it when he said that the author didn’t want the facts to get in the way of the article….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Kenn –

    If you want to get outraged about the government’s muzzling of the citizenry, how about calling for treason – yes, TREASON – investigations against those who exposed Joe Wilson’s wife just to shut him up? By doing so, they exposed everyone in a high-level multinational CIA operation.

    If you’ll remember, Valerie Plame’s ’employer’ was Brewster Jennings and Associates…and they were tracking WMD proliferation including Pakistan and Iran!

    Ah, but I forget! This was the Bush years, so anything the government did to protect the ‘conservative agenda’ was okay, huh?

  • I am a citizen of the Republic Turkey. A non-law activity against my country’s constitution and against the international treaties signed by my country is being maintained.

    I am writing this e-mail to you as a last remedy because although I have tried all the ways for an objection against this non-law media, I couldn’t achieve my voice to be heared by any authority. Yes, in my country the freedom of the people is detained because they have no money. Also, the people over 65 thousand are in prison because of the unpaid cheques in my country. Over half million people are being wanted as a result of this crime- if it is a crime. There are one million and seven hundred thousand uncovered cheques. One family member of tens of thousands families is absent in my country, hundreds of thousands of people can’t go their homes because of their being wanted and under this circumstances the remains are trying to maintain their lives in a way. The living conditions,which are already became hard as a result of the global crisis, become much more difficult because of our country’s corrupt and unfair law system. Actually the time
    which is given in the law enforcement about the uncovered cheques ended on the 31st of December, 2008 and the crimes about the uncovered cheques have been remained in act without penalties. Actually any courts can not punish until a new arrangement is done and the penalties given before are invalid. However, the courts are still giving sentences of imprisonment. The High Court hasn’t given a decision which can be considered as a sample yet. The decisions of the courts differ from each other. Some are taken to jails and some are acquitted as a result of the same crimes.The people who trade feel themselves under an extreme pressure.

    For example,in Bursa a businessman called Ak?n Düzgüno?lu couldn’t pay his cheque costed 1200 Turkish liras and he hung himself in a storage when the court had given an arrest decision for him. If Ak?n Düzgüno?lu had encountered fair decision authorities, he wouldn’t have killed himself. The paradoxical decisions of our courts have damaged the trust to our country’s justice. If the law is in the equal distance to everyone then there is justice in that country! Thousands of people who were punished as a result of the uncovered cheques are being kept in prison illegally more than 3 months. As being victim citizens,we haven’t achieved to create an effective impression neither in the press nor in our parliament yet although we have tried to correct this situation. Even though our each media agency and our parliament know that we are right, they all remain silent to our struggle and they prefer to be near the lawyers who create the largest portion of their income from the cheque cases and provide benefit from these cases as well as the banks and the pawnbrokers. It is unacceptable for a person to stay in the jail for five years although he hasn’t done fraud or theft. The existing debt has to be paid by working not by staying in the jail. Their families also have difficulty as well as the victims in jails. This situation which is not worty of the human dignity is actually the signal of the real crisis for the humanity because of its despairing ten thousands of families and because of the fact that many children have to be grown up with absent family members. Money can buy a house or a land but it shouldn’t buy the freedom.

    After the economical crisis, the people who have not been able to collect their cheques due to the reason that their business has been spoiled have been sentenced to 5 years of prison penalty and they are subject to psychological besides physical health threat. In case a penalty to be given for a crime is prison, the second penalty given through aggravating the living conditions is a violation of human rights. Our country is facing acarid and pig influenza. In spite of the pig inflenza which has been raised to 6th alarm level in the world and accepted by the World Health Organization as uncontrollable, no precautions are taken in the prisoner visit days and thus the prisoners and their visitors become subjected to health threat. The prisoner visit days, the people coming from all around the country, the number of people rising 5 times and the unhealthy conditions create anxiety. It is known that about 200 thousand cheque criminals are being sought for. The prison capacity in Turkey is 80 thousand but as of the date of 01.05.2009, there are 117 thousand prisoners in prisons, and by the effect of the crisis and due to imprisonment of business men who could not pay their debts, today the number of prisoners has reached 148 thousand…

  • This is a horror story, Sumimasen.

    What you’re saying is reflected in the writings of your Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Orhan Pamuk.

    Snow is his only work I’ve read.

  • When I glanced at this article and its comments late last night I thought someone had made the obvious point, but it appears not.

    Kenn is arguing that President Obama has violated the First Amendment on the grounds that that worthy document states: “Congress shall make no law… regarding an abridgement of free speech.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, Mr Obama:
    a) is not Congress;
    b) has not made any law, on this or any other subject.

    Just an observation…

  • By Jove,

    It does look like an airtight counterargument.

  • The counter-counterargument, of course, is that Obama swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. But the presidential oath is mandated by Article Two of that same document. So if Obama has committed any violation – and it has been ably argued by others on this thread that he has not – it is a violation of Article Two, not of the First Amendment.

  • There was one interesting question raised, Dreadful. How should we distinguish between the right of speech of corporations and the right of speech insofar as the labor unions are concerned?

    Kenn raised the question, saying if we deny the right in the first instance, then we ought to deny in the second instance as well.

    Any thoughts?

  • It is a fine distinction, Roger, especially when you consider that nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it actually specify who it applies to.

    Are all of the enumerated rights to be enjoyed by both private individuals and corporations, or just some of them? How would a corporation, in practical terms, enjoy the right to bear arms? Or to be protected from the quartering of troops in its house? Or from cruel and unusual punishments?

    My personal answer is that common sense should be applied. As Clavos noted – and you qualified – you can’t really punish a corporation, at least not corporally. Attempting to torture IBM, for example, would be ridiculous.

    Freedom of speech is another matter. A corporation – or a union – shouldn’t be muzzled – unless it’s breaking the law or is subject to a judicial injunction.

    And that’s the point here. The Constitution isn’t the be-all and end-all. So the question of whether the Obama administration was justified should be a purely legal one, not a constitutional one.

  • We may also look at the type of collectivity. A labor union, for example, may be regarded as a faction – not unlike a club or an organization, such as NRA, for instance. And we’ve long recognized the rights of factions and their political voice.

    To what extent does a corporation resemble that kind of entity is debatable? And what does it represent? To say “the stockholders” seems kind of narrow if not contrived.

    Anyway, something to think about.

  • And what does it represent? To say “the stockholders” seems kind of narrow if not contrived.

    Especially when those stockholders are often other corporations…

  • It’s a pyramid scheme.

    I’d have no problem with the Chamber of Commerce, a rotary club, even AMA or ABA (American Bankers Association). But a corporation? That’s another animal.

  • Cannonshop

    While I think you’re blowing it out of proportion, Kenn, I also find it somewhat interesting that a company has to demonstrate ideological purity rather than contractual performance…by Presidential order.

    a rather interesting abuse of Executive Priveledge (crap, can’t spell tonight) seems not unlike a de-facto violation of the 1st amendment, but probably legal, at least, using the most hair-splitting of analysis. (Interestingly, the defenders of The President in this suddenly become constructionist in their interpretations of the Constitution when it suits them…)

  • Southern Man

    Socialism and Marxism do not work. We are about to have a civil war.

  • comeonamerica

    Americans have got to be some of the dumbest people on the planet. Free speech this, free speech that. Free free free. But when gay people wanted the right to get married in California, WHO SAID NO?! How DARE you people tell gay people what they can and cannot do and then get pissy when Obama tells you your healthcare is being changed for the better. America is nothing more than a country full of narrow-minded hypocrits. Now half of them are flailing their hands in the air because Obama and the administration want to help the dumbasses who can barely take care of themselves, as is evident by the housing crisis that they put the entire world into. You people don’t want healthcare reform? EVERY OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY in the world has some form of universal healthcare. I live in Canada and I never have to pay to see a doctor. I had surgery that I never saw a bill for. Anyone who thinks their insurance is going to cover them is naive and completley ignorant. And that’s exactly what these corporations want you to think. Come on, America, do something right for a change. Quit complaining when someone is trying to help you. The rest of the world is rolling their eyes at you and your credibility has become even more damaged because you’re all acting like spoiled brats.
    Oh and by the way, I have freedom of speech

  • Kenn Jacobine

    “I live in Canada and I never have to pay to see a doctor. I had surgery that I never saw a bill for.”

    And we are the dumbest people on earth?