Monthly Archives: December 2015

Free speech?

By Christopher B. Daly 

Two items today from the Department of Juxtaposition:

The New York Times carries an article exploring the issue of whether the threat of Islamic State terrorism meets the “clear and present danger” test. The piece kicks around the issue with reference to two SCOTUS cases that my students will recognize from the court’s busy 1919 session, when it took up challenges to the First Amendment raised by WWI.*

The same paper has an article about China’s latest efforts to crack down on free speech.

Critics had said that the draft version of the law used a recklessly broad definition of terrorism, gave the government new censorship powers and authorized state access to sensitive commercial data.

Can it be that both countries are over-reaching?

*(Personally, I think the First Amendment is nearly absolute when it comes to protecting the expressions of Americans in America from censorship by the American government. But I feel quite differently about ISIS propagandists penetrating America’s mindspace to incite people to criminal acts.)

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America’s military (over-)reach

By Christopher B. Daly

Among all the countries in the world, only a handful maintain military bases outside their own territory. With the exception of one country, those external bases number about 30.

The exception? The United States, of course.

How exceptional are we? We have 686 bases overseas. That’s more than 20 times more than the rest of the world combined.

Yes, they help maintain world peace — sort of, I guess. And yes, they facilitate world trade, I suppose.

But according to a new book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, there is a huge intangible downside to all those bases. They encourage U.S. military adventures, and they generate a huge amount of ill-will toward America.

While you’re thinking about that, ponder this Defense Department map:


Each one of those regions has a commander, and I would assume that each of those commanders has the ambition to make his bones by achieving some military objective. From the North Pole to the South Pole, from Mexico to Malaysia, we are ready to do something to just about everybody, everywhere, all the time.


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Monday media roundup

By Christopher B. Daly

Here are some recent comments worth thinking about:

–After seeing “Spotlight,” NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan expresses concern over the state of investigative reporting by the nation’s regional newspapers. (I guess “regional newspapers” is Timesspeak for papers that the Times respects but does not consider in its league — i.e., Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee.)

–“On the Media” views with dismay the current state of political rhetoric. The show even uses the L-word. (To listen, click on the link, then hit “This Week’s Show.”)

–On CNN, “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter went a few bruising rounds with Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson  on this Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.17.01 PMquestion: “Is Donald Trump the “post-truth” candidate?” Pierson is one tough cookie, and expect to see and hear a lot more from her.

–The battle over ad-blocking rages on. I don’t like most ads, and I happily use an ad-blocking app on my iPhone. My only complaint is that some ads still slip through. Now, I am the first to say that the news business needs to work as a business if it is to succeed and do all the other


Illustration by Sam Manchester for NYT

things we want from it. My solution: allow customers like to pay more — even a lot more — to pay the full freight of news-gathering and eliminate the need for advertising altogether. This approach, which is reflexively pooh-poohed by certain people, has worked in the past: it was the basic model in the 18th century, and it has worked for I.F. Stone, for a lot of investment newsletters, and for a few others. Any takers?

–Finally, RIP to M. Roland Nachman, who was on the losing (and wrong) side of one of the landmark First Amendment cases in U.S. history — the Sullivan case of 1964. He seems to have been a decent fellow, but he was still wrong. Read more in my book, Covering America, at pages 312-13.





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