February 24, 2014
Shut up, they explained
By Ed Lasky
The Democrat-Media complex works to in effect silence conservative critics rather than engage their criticisms and debate the issues. They employ a variety of programs and techniques to ensure that substantive points from the other side will either be ignored, distorted, demonized, or delegitimized. Shut up, they explained.
Most conservatives have personal experiences with this dynamic all the time: friends or family who will not engage in discussions and debates about their liberal beliefs. Their response: shut up, they explained.
But this type of smothering of free speech now is writ large over America.
Speech codes on college campuses have been around for decades and are migrating downward towards grade-school and all those pre-schools Barack Obama wants to establish. Campuses boast of their flourishing diversity -- but not ideological diversity, as conservative teachers and speakers find them to be "No Go" zones.
Barack Obama did pioneer a particular tactic in trying to muzzle critics. After all, he did say he would fundamentally transform America and so he has -- one promise, and maybe the only one, he has kept.
Both of the Obama presidential campaigns featured so-called Truth Teams targeting critics, meant to intimidate them into silence if not submission. They even wanted to turn neighbors and friends against each other by asking supporters to give the campaign the names and contact information of people spreading criticism about Obama. Did Obama, the self-described "student of history" skip history lessons about the Nazi era so he could focus on Marxism?
The Race Card
There is a far more potent strategy that preempts such criticism from even starting. The race card is used repeatedly to stifle discussion and scrutiny of Barack Obama and his policies. Obama himself was among the first to pull that card out of his deck, as Sean Wilentz noted back in 2008 when it was used to shut up any criticism of him by Hillary Clinton's primary campaign ; Obama used it again -- as even his campaign strategist David Axelrod admitted -- when he accused people of not supporting him because his face was dissimilar to those they picture on dollar bills and when he exhorted people not to refuse to vote for him because of his funny name or because he was African-American. Now it is widely used to deflect criticism of Obama and his administration -it is a staple of MSNBC news coverage (and part and parcel of the blarney flowing from Chris Matthews on a daily basis). Conservatives who happen to be black are routinely denigrated. Now the charge of racism has become an all-purpose epithet to depict Tea Party supporters -- just one of many slurs and smears of Tea Partiers -- part of the myth-making by the mainstream media that have been proven to be just that, myths; any worry about deficits and the national debt and the policies that deepen those is dismissed as not just greed by taxpayers but racism by those biased against the beneficiaries of much of this spending.
There is no card more effective as a conversation stopper than the race card -- it is the liberals' new McCarthyism. Shut up, they explain.
If smears of racism don't work then other insults are readily available.
These include but are not limited to charges that conservatives and others who do not adhere to liberal orthodoxy are stupid. When Barack Obama and John Kerry declare "climate change is settled science" and a "fact" and skeptics are members of the "Flat Earth Society" they are alleging doubters -- or worse deniers with its allusion to Holocaust deniers -- are beyond the pale. After all, who can deny a fact, especially when that fact is called a weapon of mass destruction that threatens the planet?
Charles Krauthammer demolishes this theological certainty by writing that it's a myth that climate science is settled in a "just the-facts , mam" column. Krauthammer writes "it is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate." Many scientists around the world concur, though a liberal media-climate change complex would prefer not to publicize that fact. The goal is to prevent debate and smear those who would dare to do so. After all, how can they explain a range of facts disproving climate change? Shut up, they explain.
Those daring to offer alternative policies or oppose those of Democrats face a fusillade of charges that they are not "just" obstructionists but also are bomb-throwers and hostage takers , according to President Obama (and terrorists according to Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer as well as delusional) who in true 1984 fashion can hurl these charges while decrying the lack of civility in politics. Who would give credence to those depicted as beyond the pale?
Weaponizing the Organs of Obama's Government
Early in his presidency, Barack Obama was miffed (a chronic condition for him). Arizona State University had decided it was too soon to give him an honorary degree. He "joked" that the board of regents will soon "learn all about being audited by the IRS." Again, the student of history seemed to be unaware of Richard Nixon's abuse of the IRS to target enemies (or maybe not).
The IRS began targeting Tea Party groups after the tidal wave of GOP election wins in 2010 -- and was successful enough to avoid losses in 2012 and, of course, win the presidency in 2012. Now they are trying for a repeat performance by not only stonewalling Congressional efforts to uncover the depth of the scandal (routinely dismissed by Obama flacks as a pseudo-scandal bereft of even a "smidgen of corruption" by Obama) but by formulating new rules that would stifle the free speech efforts of conservative groups, as Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal notes. Individuals have been targeted for "special measures" as Obama's campaign and administration (but I repeat myself -- the two are the same) trolls for dirt on donors to opponents (without such support conservatives have a challenging time overcoming liberal media bias) and sends multiple government agencies to harass people such as Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True The Vote, a group that works to ensure integrity of the voting process in Texas, a state Democrats are determined to turn blue. In 2008, Obama intimidated people -- he brings a gun to knife fight. He never shows such forcefulness when it comes to Vladimir Putin, Iranian mullahs, illegal immigrants but when his political career is threatened the big guns emerge.
Shut up, they threaten.
Dominate the Media
Since the media are overwhelmingly liberal, the Democrats don't have to do much work to coerce the media to remain supine. Journalists, such as those who were part of the secret Journolist group that plotted to plant pro-Obama and pro-Democrat stories in media outlets, have been biased for years. Or he can just co-opt them by hiring them or their relatives by the score.
They are well-trained pets for Democrats, and particularly for Barack Obama, as symbolized by this 2008 National Review cover photo.
But there are bits of resistance here and there that cannot be tolerated. Whatever happened to the liberal call to arms, "dissent is the highest form of patriotism"? Whatever happened to the virtue of "Speaking Truth to Power"? Down the memory hole when Democrats rule.
How many times have Fox News and Rush Limbaugh been denigrated? White House communications director Anita Dunn (whose favorite political philosopher is Mao Zedong) depicted Fox News as not a legitimate news organization.
Obama told America before the Super Bowl that Fox News had "absolutely, of course" been unfair to him," further casting aspersions on the one network not in thrall to him, for all of America to hear.
Intimidate, dominate and regulate
How many people know about the time a reporter was sequestered into a closet to prevent coverage at a Biden fundraiser? But cowing the media into submission can take more potent forms when liberals are in power.
The Obama administration's snooping on the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen elicited outrage. Ann Marinow wrote in the Washington Post :
Journalists, First Amendment watchdogs and government transparency advocates reacted with outrage Monday to the revelation that the Justice Department had investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks.
Critics said the government's suggestion that James Rosen, Fox News's chief Washington correspondent, was a "co-conspirator" for soliciting classified information threatened to criminalize press freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
Criminalizing press freedom strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment. But it gets worse.
Echoes of the IRS witch-hunt reverberate in the Federal Communications Commission plans to "study" news outlets by sending monitors to review their coverage.
Byron York writes in "New Obama initiative tramples First Amendment protections":
The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation's newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public's "critical information needs." Those "needs" will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government's standards could face an uncertain future. It's hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment.
The prospect of an uncertain future relates to the power of the Federal Communications Commission to pull or deny licenses to operate. Given the fiat -- or gangsta government in Michael Barone's words -- that currently exists this "research" will clearly have a chilling effect on free speech. As Charles Krauthammer noted, this type of censorship could have been dreamt up in Kiev or Moscow, not in America. In the face of national outrage, the FCC has delayed the project but announced they will seek other ways to accomplish their goals. "We have ways of making you talk" or not.
While the study lists as one of its purposes ensuring a diversity of viewpoints, the Democrats' favorite media conglomerate Comcast -- owner of the aforementioned NBC peacock network as well as MSNBC and Universal Studios and a passel of other content providers -- seems well on its way to having its purchase of Time Warner Cable approved in Washington, despite concerns that its dominant control of much of the media is a blow to diversity and Free Speech. Even Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation -- no right-wing outlet -- thinks this deal does not pass the smell test.
The resulting company would have at least 30 million cable customers, slightly less than 30% of the TV market and 38% of the nation's high-speed Internet customers. It would have virtual monopoly cable control over news and public service programming in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, D.C. and other cities.
And Comcast would be in the position to decide what gets priority access and what viewers across much of the nation won't see.
Comcast is just digesting its previous mega-merger, the takeover of NBC Universal that should have been blocked by the Federal Communications Commission. That left Comcast controlling an empire that includes NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Telemundo and other networks.
Here the merger doesn't just affect the marketplace of cable; it threatens the marketplace of ideas. The protection of free speech under our Constitution depends on citizens having access to many ideas, many sources, many ways of getting ideas and information.
Letting mega-corporations consolidate control of the media infrastructure directly threatens that access.
The dominance is so pervasive it brings to mind the beginning of the old television show "The Outer Limits":"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear."
And it will be all liberal, all the time. Those with other perspectives and policies will be virtually shut up.
We are living in the Outer Limits, where, if the Democrats want your opinion they will give it to you as part of their long-running effort to manufacture consent. Sometimes they just provide their loyal cohort of followers with tweets to feed them their opinions =- lasting as long as the average attention span of many of them, no doubt.
Comcast is run by Brian Roberts, a mega-bundler for Obama, who has hosted multiple parties for Obama over the years at his home in Martha's Vineyard. The company's chief lobbyist in Washington also is an Obama bundler. What a coincidence! Apparently, diversity of viewpoints is not needed as long as the views presented have the Democratic party stamp of approval.
Big Government can be a Big Bully. Threats have become a modus operandi to stop criticism of the Obama team and agenda.
Kathleen Sebelius, heading up the ObamaCare disaster, tried to head off negative commentary in 2010 . She sent a letter to the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies that featured an implied threat:
"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."
The architects of this disaster seemingly foresaw rate increases and wanted to shift blame away from ObamaCare. Similarly, when businesses such as Papa John's Pizza informed people that prices would rise as quickly as dough due to Obamacare, Obama's followers began to gin up boycott campaigns.
The very same tactic was recycled recently when Obama, fearing job losses before the midterms, exempted medium-sized employers from the mandate to provide health insurance to their employees. Chris Stirewait of Fox News writes in "Thought Police: Firms Must Swear ObamaCare Not a Factor in Firings":
Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS - under penalty of perjury - that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs. You can duck the law, but only if you promise not to say so.
Clearly, the administration wanted to muzzle businesses from informing employees their terminations were brought to them courtesy of the White House. Better to let big bad businesses get the blame for firings engineered by Democrats and force them to swear to it in writing.
Shut up, they explained.
The First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech. That right serves to protect all other right enumerated in the Constitution. When free speech is smothered, democracy suffers -- as does our nation. Yet liberals, who so often proclaim how open-minded they are compared to the yahoos and assorted Duck Dynasty fans out there in the vast wasteland of America, largely have been silent in the wake of this suppression; perhaps because they are the perpetrators.
Clearly, liberals couldn't care less for the views of the American people. The priorities of the Democratic Party like "climate change" and ObamaCare do not register with the majority of Americans, as numerous polls over the years have shown. They do not care. Americans might as well shut up.
Perhaps some Democrats share the view of Governor Andrew Cuomo who says conservatives have no place in New York -- not only are they not to be heard they are not to be even seen.
Ron Fournier, columnist for the National Journal, wrote recently that the White House assumes people are "dumb." The corollary to that belief is that they should remain dumb because it helps Democrats.
Come the midterms they may hear from Americans loud and clear that they will not shut up.