Click here to read entries for the month of March that contain these words.
(photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
He claims he wants small government.
He swears he works to bring freedom to his constituents.
But earlier this week, Rep. Tim Scott voted in big-government fashion to deny citizens a freedom that’s as basic as protection of a personal password.
As a result of this vote from Scott and other Republicans, it’s now a-okay for companies to make employees and job applicants reveal their passwords to social media websites. A boss can sign in to a worker’s or applicant’s account, see who her “friends” are, and check out any comments she made. If the worker/applicant refuses (or if the boss doesn’t like what he sees)? Goodbye, job.
Scott joined in with other Republicans to block a key amendment to H.R. 3309, the FCC Reform Act. Sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), the appropriately-titled “Mind Your Own Business on Passwords” bill sought to “prohibit licensees or regulated entities from mandating that job applicants or employees disclose confidential passwords to social networking web sites.”
But it wasn’t just Tim Scott. And it wasn’t just all of South Carolina’s five Republican congressional representatives, who also voted to block the amendment, either. It was the just about the entire GOP behind it all.
In fact, all but one Republican congressman (North Carolina’s Rep. Walter Jones) voted against this bill, which was defeated 236-184.
This subject of social media privacy in the workplace started earlier this year, when media reported that a Maryland prison guard was required to reveal his Facebook password in a December 2011 job interview.
Not only was this requirement an invasion of the man’s privacy, as he himself witnessed while his employers surfed through his personal Facebook page and that of his family and friends, but it also seemed to be a violation of federal law pertaining to “unlawful access to stored communications,” too.
The ACLU argued against this practice, insisting that privacy be protected. National media took it up, adding other people who told the same tale.
The public sentiment in favor of protected privacy apparently didn’t reach the ears of House Republicans, however.
So where does this issue stand now? Hopefully, on unsteady ground.
Senate Democrats recently asked the U.S. Attorney General’s office to see if this practice violates the existing “unlawful access to stored communications” law, and also asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate.
The public sentiment against this privacy restriction isn’t silencing, either. For example, Republicans and Democrats in Minnesota’s state legislature introduced bills in both houses to block employer access to employees’ social media passwords. A similar bill is working its way through Maryland’s state government, too.
But what can you do meanwhile? Well, you might want to be cautious of what you post on Facebook, that’s for sure.
On your next visit, however, be sure to visit Tim Scott’s page, and let him know what you think of his vote to violate your freedom of privacy.
Us folks way down yonder in the Lowcountry never could understand the claims about "liberal media" that get tossed around every election year. You only have to hear 10 seconds of local broadcast or read two pages of local print to see that it's just the opposite.
I mean, sometimes the local rags and dishes blare out pieces that are so false and one-sided that, if you squeezed those news stories tight enough, your fingers would wind up stained from offshore bank deposit slips instead of newspaper ink.
Consider the editorial staff at Charleston's Post & Courier, for example. Media Matters for America, a national watchdog group that keeps tabs on the news circulating around, just cited P&C for issuing multiple editorials chock full o' garbage on one particular topic.
That topic is the Affordable Care Act, which just went through three days of argument and review before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the last two years, the Post & Courier printed 27 complete and utter falsehoods about the Act, Media Matters said this week, with the last incidents appearing just two weeks ago on March 17.
Titled "Obamacare's fiscal malady," the recent editorial claims the White House "granted more than 1,700 waivers to businesses, unions and other organizations on the practical grounds that they simply can't afford to comply with the so-called Affordable Care Act."
P&C editorials have made this same claim many times -- reporting a different number of waivers on each occasion -- since December 2010, each time stating that the waivers came about because the Act was too expensive to the point that it was causing layoffs.
The truth of the matter, though, is that the waivers are included to protect employers from insurance company tricks. Since the Act is not set to enter full-swing application until 2014, it was anticipated that some insurers would try to jack-up rates and limit coverage in order to make as much money as possible until then. These waivers -- a "stop-gap" safeguard -- only protect companies and their workers, and are not because Act compliance is unaffordable.
In that same March 17 editorial, Post & Courier editors claim the original cost estimates of the Affordable Care Act ($940 billion in its first 10 years) practically doubled, escalating to $1.76 trillion.
What those editors didn't reveal, though, is that the $940 billion estimate, issued in 2010, was a net cost; the $1.76 trillion figure which P&C editors snagged from another document was a gross cost. Moreover, they failed to tell readers that these estimates are not attributable to new expenses; they are modifications to current ones, including Medicare and Medicaid, and are actually projected to reduce budget deficits by $210 billion in that 10-year period.
Don't forget -- these are just two examples of the 27 lies from P&C editorials on this one topic.
And when you review the other 25, please note one very interesting finding: the ones that reek most in blatant falsehood -- claiming the Act would "ration" healthcare, would constitute "government takeover" and cut Medicare funding -- are no longer available on P&C's website. It's apparently not because they were tucked away in archives, either; for example, included in the ones I found to be no longer available on postandcourier.com were stories from January 2011, May 2011 and August 2011.
Older ones cited in this same Media Matters probe, however (and that don't smell as bad as these particular ones do), are still found on the newspaper's website. See for yourself; click here to read a December 2010 editorial that Media Matters includes in its listing of 27 erroneous editorials, and right from www.postandcourier.com.
Just for the record, know that I'm not complaining about everyone working for, affiliated with or even just subscribing to the Post & Courier, and neither is this Media Matters report, either. I've met some P&C staff and reporters quite a few times, and know that many are good, honest, fair and truth-telling professionals.
It's the folks who write these editorials (whose actual names are never shown in those writings) that I, Media Matters, and many more I know are complaining about.
I first confirmed P&C's policy of deliberate misinformation back in 2007, maybe early '08. The Associated Press had released a story addressing a rumor about then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; the article cleared Clinton's name, too, declaring it found factual evidence that proved her responding claims to be true. I read that story early that morning from the website of another newspaper (New York Times, I recall).
But when I picked up the morning paper from my lawn later that morning, I saw that P&C had deliberately maligned that same story. An entirely different opening paragraph (which I can only assume was added by a P&C editor) claimed that the investigation proved Clinton was wrong. (The rest of the printed story was the same as I'd read online, but if you studied journalism, you know that most readers don't get past the first paragraph on stories; I assume the P&C editor who added that new intro was banking on that adage.)
I was shocked. I don't claim to be journalist (even though I get to relive my college newspaper days by contributing to the cheesy Examiner), but I know that this added intro, which changed the entire scope of the article, was a cardinal sin in news rooms. That's what I was taught in class, during internships, at national conventions, and straight from career reporters, too.
I went so far as to telephone Associated Press' corporate office in New York to tell them of my finding. I was told that its client newspapers can add other information to AP articles to localize the stories for their readers, but that at no time can the actual data used in those articles be changed. Those are the contractual terms AP has with its affiliated newspapers, I was told.
I then read to them the opening paragraph that P&C added, and asked if it wasn't a violation of those same terms.
The Associated Press then did a one-eighty, completely reversing from its role as a news-reporting agency: "I can't issue any comment," I was told.
I didn't renew my subscription to Post & Courier when it ended a couple of months later. Why should I pay money for news that is deliberately altered from the truth? If a company assumes its customers are dumb and easily influenced by openly false information, then I don't want to be one of those customers.
This write-up from Media Matters solidly confirms the basis of my complaint against P&C, too. These are 27 instances of complete garbage, and all on this one single subject.
And that subject of the Affordable Care Act is very important right now. As I mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court spent three days of this week reviewing it, and while many predict the Act will be protected, many of us -- very many right here in South Carolina, in particular -- need to know the truth on this subject. Right now.
Since its 2009 passage:
Last week on a FOX/FAUX News broadcast, Geraldo Rivera redistributed the blame for an unanswered shooting right back to the victim.
Implying that his attire identified the victim to be of questionable, if not criminal, character, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera said.
Martin wore a sweatshirt with hood at the time of his slaying.
But if that's the case, Geraldo, maybe you should send a personal message to the many other folks - even well-known stars and public figures - who wear them, too. These famous figures, some of whom hold status of social role models, may end up shot for being "gangstas" (as Rivera pronounces the word in emphasis on ethnicity) for wearing such clothing.
Perhaps more importantly, maybe Rivera should stop his "do as I say, not as I do" advice, and remind *himself* not to wear hoodies. Yup - even though he says he instructs his children not to wear them, he's done so himself, in public venues, even.
Know that earlier today, Rivera submitted an apology to Politico.
His message concluded "(my) own family and friends believe I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police. And if that is true, I apologize."
'Justice for Trayvon Martin' vigil on March 27
'Justice for Trayvon' vigil moving to larger location
Local 'Justice for Trayvon Martin' events on Tuesday and Wednesday
(distributed by Brandon Fish on facebook)
It was big enough to host the media conference from which John Kerry endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.
It was big enough for Stephen Colbert’s sarcastic Herman Cain rally right before the presidential primary this year, too.
But the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard isn’t big enough to accommodate the number of people who might show up at this Tuesday’s “Justice for Trayvon Martin” vigil.
Originally planned for Tuesday evening at the Cistern, the vigil will now take place on the six-and-a-half acres of nearby Marion Square.
The event will still take place on the same Tuesday, Mar. 27 date, but the vigil is now slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the new location.
Organizer Matt Rabon updated the event’s Facebook page about the new time and place this evening.
“Due to the increased interest and media exposure, the event is being moved to Marion Square,” he entered. “We simply need more room.”
Vigils have taken place across the country, and with participation ranging from dozens to hundreds to thousands, with estimates of over 30,000 in Martin’s hometown of Sanford, Fla.
In an original interview, Rabon said the incident reminded him of the Lowcountry, where he feels racially-motivated tensions still exist.
“I just felt like it was important,” he said.
All in the community are invited to participate in next Tuesday’s vigil, and attendees can RSVP on Facebook.
The wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting is not reaching the shores of public sentiment alone.
It’s extending to the State House, too, and with support from organized labor.
Last week state Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark) introduced a bill to remove the “stand your ground” modification, enacted in 2006, to South Carolina’s “Protection of Persons and Property Act.”
The South Carolina AFL-CIO came out in support of Sellers’ motion, too. "We have long had laws on the books that allowed for legitimate self defense," says Ken Riley, vice president of the organization.
"These new laws are being used by vigilantes to excuse frontier justice against unarmed people,” and “have no place on the books of a society that considers itself civilized," says Riley, who is also president of the ILA Local 1422 in Charleston.
“The SC AFL-CIO believes these unnecessary laws conflict with its commitment to equal rights and due process for all citizens,” reads a press release from the labor organization.
Originally a Castle Doctrine that only applied to residences and places of business, the Act’s change extended the right for a South Carolinian to use deadly force to “another place where he has a right to be(.)”
South Carolina’s statute is very similarly worded to Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
The same statute was recently used as basis to not pursue charges against a Spartanburg woman who shot a homeless man inside a vacant property.
Sellers says his bill would restore the law to its original Castle Doctrine format, still allowing deadly force in self-defense inside the home, car or other owned property.
It might be a tad dry - sarcastic, even - but at least President Obama's keeping his sense of humor as the election season hits full swing.
Before leaving an Oklahoma event earlier today, Obama shook hands with a few people who remained to see him off. One of them told him that she too was born in Hawaii.
"You were born in Hawaii?" he asked. "You and me?" After she replied "yes" to both questions, he dropped the trick question on her:
"Do you have your birth certificate?"
(photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Guess what, Tim Scott supporters? Through the congressman’s underhanded wizardry and table tricks, your campaign contributions didn’t go to him just once, but twice. And maybe even three times, too.
That’s right – the Tim Scott for Congress campaign paid Tim Scott the Business Owner $27,587 directly from the funds it received in donations from voters.
Before being elected in 2010, the representative of South Carolina’s 1st Congress Dist. operated Tim Scott & Associates, the company name he used to promote himself as a public speaker and conductor of seminars.
During the 2010 election season, this “Associates” business received two payments totaling $7,787 from Scott’s campaign coffers for “mileage reimbursement.”
Scott is also part-owner of Gideon Properties, a real estate management company that’s listed at the same West Ashley address of his former Allstate Insurance office.
In 2010, Scott’s campaign made 10 payments totaling $19,800 to this company for rent.
According to a report compiled by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Scott also listed Gideon as a source of personal income on his campaign’s personal financial disclosure statement, required of all congressional candidates, in 2010.
In this case, then, almost $20,000 in donations received by his political campaign were submitted directly to his company, and some of that company’s funds were then returned directly to Scott as personal income.
And that means your donations to Scott’s campaign didn’t benefit him just once, and not just twice, but three times.
Is this legal? Somehow, it is, according to two well-experienced campaign advisors who asked their names not be revealed. A candidate can rent campaign property from his own company, hire himself and his own company for campaign work, and reimburse his own company for any other campaign expenses, too.
But is it ethical? Well, for the best answer possible, picture those same two campaign advisors rolling their eyes very slowly in disgust. Those thousands in campaign payments were nothing more than personal profiting from political ploys.
Before voters consider making any three-for-one donations to Scott’s 2012 campaign, they should consider this first: there’s a new competitor on the slate. And maybe Bobbie Rose will only spend your money once.
(Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images)
A shot fired in Florida three weeks ago is still echoing in public disgust, and will resound again next week right here in Charleston.
A candlelight vigil in a theme of “Justice for Trayvon Martin” takes place Mar. 27 at the College of Charleston.
Set to start at sundown, the vigil should begin about 7:30 p.m. at Cistern Yard, which is accessible from 66 George St.
Matt Rabon of Charleston says he’s organizing the event “just as a matter of decency and human empathy.”
Martin, a 17-year-old African American, was fatally shot as he walked through a gated Sanford, Fla. neighborhood on the evening of Feb. 26. Shooter George Zimmerman followed Martin, telling 911 operators on multiple calls he was “suspicious,” and told police that evening his shot was only in self-defense.
Martin was unarmed, however, and the neighborhood was that of his father’s girlfriend, which he’d frequented.
Despite consistent changes in his statements, despite witness statements to the contrary, and despite continuously developing evidence that infers racism on the parts of both him and Sanford police, Zimmerman has never been charged for this slaying.
Sadly, circumstances like this are common here in the Lowcountry, too, says Rabon. “The shooting of Asberry Wylder comes to mind as an example,” he offers.
In November 2003 Wylder – mentally-ill and suspected of shoplifting – was fatally wounded by six North Charleston police officers who drew their weapons when he displayed a knife. He was shot twice, once after the Africa-American was handcuffed, one witness said. Wylder died shortly after.
Wrongful death charges against the officers were dismissed following a case described by local NAACP president Dorothy Scott to indicate “how unjust our justice system is when matters of African Americans are concerned.”
As his distaste for the tragedy deepened to disgust, Rabon thought someone from somewhere in the local community must surely be organizing some type of demonstration. Unable to find any, he knew he’d have to create his own.
“I basically just looked around online to see if anyone was organizing something for people to participate in locally, something to give people a chance to express their sadness and outrage in public,” he says.
“I didn't see anything, so I started doing it myself. I just felt like it was important.”
Rabon hopes many will attend, especially ones who could lend some Lowcountry insight on the topic. “I bet there are lots of local people who could speak to this issue a lot more knowledgeably than myself.”
All in the community are invited to participate in next Tuesday’s vigil, and attendees can RSVP on Facebook.
Robservations by Rob Groce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.