6 September 2012 >>
If you pay taxes, part of the money the government takes from you is used to fund political activity that’s likely to leave you with an even higher tax bill in the future. The days of Tammany Hall are long gone, but the old-school political machines have been replaced. Their modern equivalent is the government union, a massive lobbying force whose primary interest lies in growing itself, by growing government.
In a four-and-a-half minute animation, Union Made: The Machine explains the mechanics of this modern political machine.
1 March 2012 >>
Much has been written already about Andrew Breitbart and his life at the intersection of culture, media and politics. So instead, I will tell you a story about how Andrew Breitbart and I ended up at a Devo concert.
7 November 2011 >>
Recently, I brought a camera and a few multiple-choice questions to Zuccotti Park, where I conducted a quiz game with some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. As a reward for getting the answers right, contestants were able to choose among several options for prizes. Unfortunately, one gentleman in the audience apparently did not appreciate the prize selections made by his fellow protesters, so he disrupted the game, bear-hugged me, grabbed the question cards out of my hand and attempted to run off with them before I stopped him.
31 March 2010 >>
Not too long ago, taking to the streets to protest your government was considered a patriotic act.
But it seems that publicly airing your grievances stopped being patriotic right around noon on January 20th, 2009.
Once President Obama was sworn in, protesting became incitement to violence.
If you’ve opened up a newspaper or watched a cable news program in the past week or so, you’ve probably seen members of the media painting Tea Party activists as dangerous bigots. That’s because disagreeing with President Obama on issues like government spending and high taxes makes you a racist, you see.
What’s interesting about the media’s latest freak-out is that there were radicals a-plenty under President Bush. They protested in the streets. They talked openly about revolution and killing. But oddly, the violent imagery used by people claiming to be advocates for peace never registered with the media. They were too busy fawning over Cindy Sheehan.
Why the difference in coverage? Did the media cheerlead protests against President Bush to hurt him politically? Are they trying to marginalize the increasingly powerful Tea Party movement because they favor President Obama’s agenda?
One thing’s for sure: If there is such a thing as dangerous rhetoric, then the media is at least one president too late in reporting the story.
Don’t believe me?
Well, then let’s take a trip down memory lane...
Implicitly, Obama was using the threat of violence to get the bankers to acquiesce.
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama didn’t shy away from confrontation. In fact, he encouraged it by telling supporters to “argue with” opponents and to “get in their face[s].”
The Obama Administration’s confrontational tone included some violent imagery last August, when one White House official encouraged Obama supporters to “punch back twice as hard” against opponents.
Later that day, at an anti-ObamaCare rally in St. Louis, a black man named Kenneth Gladney was handing out “Don’t Tread on Me” flags when he was approached by pro-ObamaCare SEIU union members. One of the men asked Gladney, “What kind of nigger are you to be giving out this kind of stuff?”
Obama’s supporters got the message. They were getting in people’s faces, and they were punching. And kicking. Repeatedly.
Yet despite the fact that the Kenneth Gladney beating occurred the same day that the Obama Administration recommended supporters “punch back twice as hard,” there was no hyperventilating in the media about political violence or the veiled threats that encouraged it.
Today, however, the Democratic politicians who rammed through ObamaCare over the wishes of the American public are worried about the ugly environment that the Obama Administration spent over a year stoking. And if Obama and the Democrats truly believe that words lead to violence, then they should accept responsibility for the beating of Kenneth Gladney.
I’m certainly not condoning political violence, and would condemn any that actually happens. But there has been no reported violence against any Congressman, Senator or government official, despite the media frenzy of stories describing a crazed American public ready to terrorize politicians.
All politicians receive threats; any moderately trafficked blogger receives threats. So while I would hate for there to be any actual violence, excuse me if I chuckle at the chatter of the chickens in the media and our political class. This media-driven national freakout is a diversion, designed to de-legitimize opposition to ObamaCare and to take your attention away from the illegitimate and unprecedented usurpation of power by the Democrats in Congress and President Obama. They’re banking on you forgetting by November.
If the media is going to report on this atmosphere without discussing the Obama Administration’s words or the SEIU beat-down of Kenneth Gladney, if they are going to spend time breathlessly reporting rumored threats that have not been carried out while ignoring violence that actually occurred but didn’t fit their narrative, then it is yet more proof of the media’s patent bias.
One day shortly after the Second World War ended, Winston Churchill and Labour Party Prime Minister Clement Attlee encountered one another at the urinal trough in the House of Common’s men’s washroom. Attlee arrived first. When Churchill arrived, he stood as far away from him as possible. Attlee said, “Feeling standoffish today, are we, Winston?” Churchill said: “That’s right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”
25 January 2010 @ 8:40AM >>The New York Times is on the receiving end of a very good point:
To the Editor:
In “The Court’s Blow to Democracy” (editorial, Jan. 22), you strenuously disagree with the proposition that “corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights.”
Every day, The New York Times Company exercises its First Amendment right to engage in political speech. Today, it expresses its desire to deny that right to most other corporations.
The Constitution does not permit the government to criminalize speech based on the identity of the speaker. If any corporation has First Amendment rights, all corporations must have First Amendment rights.
20 January 2010 @ 8:35AM >>
Two weeks ago, I wrote, “Democrats losing Ted Kennedy’s seat would be a massive political earthquake.” Well, yesterday, the once-unthinkable happened, and the deep blue state of Massachusetts elected its first Republican senator since 1972.
Today, politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle will be spinning, assigning blame, and taking credit.
Here’s my not-at-all-scientific breakdown of the factors I think went into Scott Brown’s victory over Democrat Martha Coakley:
30% - Opposition to high taxes and out-of-control government spending
25% - Backlash at the political hijinks of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s “get it done at all costs” tactics
20% - Rejection of ObamaCare specifically
15% - Martha Coakley being a bad candidate
5% - Scott Brown being a charismatic candidate
5% - Disappointment in President Obama’s first year
0% - Repudiation of Ted Kennedy’s legacy
By this measure, it’s hard to say that President Obama had nothing to do with the defeat, but in my view, his party shares more of the blame than he does personally.
Less than a month after major Nidal Hasan allegedly killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, the Pentagon’s top intelligence officer sent the White House a report detailing an earlier failure to connect the dots. It reads like a dress rehearsal for the Detroit bomber case, reports CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin.
According to that still-classified report, the terrorism task force responsible for determining whether Hasan posed a threat never saw all 18 e-mails he exchanged with that radical Yemeni cleric Awlaki whose communications were being monitored under a court ordered wiretap.
Guess which radical Yemeni cleric won’t be using the same communication channels anymore?
This is why we shouldn’t be trying to fight wars in a courtroom.
5 December 2009 @ 3:15PM >>
My documentary film Indoctrinate U—which analyzes the attacks on free speech and free thought on politically correct college campuses—will be shown on the Documentary Channel two more times in the coming weeks.
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate ObamaCare bills. We’d like to compare this dispatch to the AP’s dispatch earlier this week “fact checking” Sarah Palin’s new book. Here goes:
Number of AP reporters assigned to story:
ObamaCare bills: 2
Palin book: 11
Number of pages in document being covered:
ObamaCare bills: 4,064
Palin book: 432
Number of pages per AP reporter:
ObamaCare bill: 2,032
Palin book: 39.3
On a per-page basis, that is, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican officeholder as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives. That’s what they call accountability journalism.
4 November 2009 >>
Yesterday, two states held elections for governor. Last year, both states voted to elect President Obama. Now, a year after The Ascension of The One, in both states, Republican gubernatorial candidates won handily.
In Virginia, Republican candidate Bob McDonnell beat Democrat Creigh Deeds by more than 17%.* This in a recently-trending-Democrat state that Obama carried by more than 6%. That’s nearly a 24% swing in one year.
And in New Jersey, a heavily Democratic state that Obama won by over 14% last year, Republican Chris Christie beat incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine by almost 5%. That’s more than an 18% swing.
Even before the election, White House spinners were claiming that Democratic defeats would not reflect poorly on Obama, even though the president visited both states several times to campaign for the candidates that ended up losing.
In fact, in both states, the losing Democrats aligned themselves so closely with Obama that a quick glance at their campaign materials might lead you to think that they were running to become Obama’s vice president. So if anyone was trying to make this election about Obama, it was the Democrats who lost.
But now that the results are in, expect to hear the refrain repeated: these elections had absolutely nothing to do with Barack Obama!
And if recent history is any indication, you can expect Obama to start pinning the blame on George W. Bush any time now.
Leaders of the Maryland NAACP, worried that a Baltimore mayor’s criminal conviction could result in the appointment of a white or Republican leader who may not fully represent the majority black and Democratic city, are asking state lawmakers to strip the governor of authority to permanently fill the office.
“There is that possibility of a conviction, and we want to know those protocols that are in place,” said Elbridge James, the political action chairman of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “If it looks like it is going to rain, I am going to buy an umbrella.”
Marvin L. Cheatham, the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, introduced the resolution because he heard an attorney on a radio program discussing a lack of clarity on succession if [Baltimore’s mayor] were to be convicted and sentenced.
“Our concern is who would the governor appoint?” Cheatham said. “Here you have a predominantly African-American city. What if the governor appointed somebody white? ... Would he appoint someone Irish to be the mayor?”
The resolution passed “nearly unanimously” with little debate from the 150 or so delegates who attended the meeting, James said.
13 October 2009 @ 6:22PM >>
Months before Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, the name “Obama” was already being stamped on or sewn into objects of every type, and these objects could be purchased just about anywhere you happened to be standing. Keychains, buttons, hats, t-shirts were all readily available. I saw Obama skateboards and heard rumors of Obama bongs. Eventually, companies usually seen selling things like pewter gnomes and porcelain kittens got into the game, hawking commemorative coins and Obama dinner plates on late-night cable shows.
30 September 2009 >>
Daniel Okrent, the former public editor of the New York Times, recently made some interesting comments on his old employer and the media in general. Some highlights:
[T]here is a shortage of conservatives working in the news media — or, I should say, an imbalance between liberals and conservatives. The last survey I saw was on the ‘04 election - I don’t know what it was in ‘08 - but in ‘04 something like 75 percent of working journalists at daily newspapers voted for the Democrat. I mean, you can’t deny this. It’s a reality.
When I was at the Times - my term there ended four years ago - everybody on the editorial board was a Democrat. I asked Gail Collins, who was then the editorial page editor, “Why don’t you have a greater ideological variety and philosophical variety so you can have richer debate on the page?” And she said, “If I had a couple of conservatives on this page, they’d be unhappy all the time. They’d either have to write something that wasn’t their view, because we decide our view consensually, or they’d never get to write. So, what’s the point?” Now, Gail knows a lot better than I the dynamics of coming to an editorial position, but it would seem to me that, if for no other reason than to challenge the conventional thinking that may - and I stress the may - dominate the conversation on the editorial board, it’d be nice to have somebody else there who might say, “Well, here’s another point of view.”
If it’s to survive and flourish, the Times has to be an honest broker, and the perception left by that op-ed page and the adjoining editorial page is that it’s not.
When I was at the paper I criticized it pretty strongly for not having ideological diversity or religious diversity on the staff. The same reason we would want racial diversity, to provide different perspectives on the world, would suggest that we want the same thing religiously and ideologically and philosophically. And I was very roundly criticized by some people on the left about that, people who thought it was an outrage that I was suggesting that the Times hire more conservatives. Why is that an outrage? Why is it an outrage to get a more varied view of the world? We want a varied view if we’re going to be good citizens, if we’re going to have a functioning democracy. We must have a varied view.
Results from a national Sacred Heart University survey released today reveal that many news consumers believe the media played a significant role in electing President Barack Obama and that the media continue to promote his presidency.
“A large majority, 89.3 percent, suggested the national media played a very or somewhat strong role in helping to elect President Obama,” according to a summary of the findings. “Just 10.0 percent suggested the national media played little or no role. Further, 69.9 percent agreed the national news media are intent on promoting the Obama presidency while 26.5 percent disagreed. Some, 3.6 percent, were unsure.”
And 86.6 percent said they believe the news media try to influence public opinion and that they have their own public policy and political positions. This compares to 87.6 percent in 2008 and 70.3 percent in 2003.
The study did not indicate which medium the respondents turn to for news, but it did indicate that about 38 percent say they read newspapers less frequently than they did five years ago. Nearly 68 percent said they agreed with the statement: “Old-style, traditionally objective and fair journalism is dead.”
Institutions on the Red Alert list are unrepentant offenders against basic rights that are guaranteed either by the U.S. Constitution or the schools themselves, and they have policies and/or practices that demonstrate a serious and ongoing threat to current and future students. They are the “worst of the worst” when it comes to protecting liberty on campus.
FIRE explains the latest in a years-long campaign by Bucknell’s administrators to shut down the speech of students whose opinions they don’t share:
The controversy at Bucknell began in March, when [Bucknell University Conservatives Club] members attempted to distribute fakedollar bills in protest of the federal stimulus, featuring an image of President Obama. BUCC members were told by a campus administrator that they were “busted,” and that their activities were a violation of Bucknell’s Sales and Solicitation policy. Even after pointing out that the “stimulus dollars” distribution was an obvious act of political protest and that the students were not engaged in solicitation, Bucknell still considered the act to fall under this policy, seeing it as the equivalent of “handing out Bibles” (which also would not be solicitation under the policy). Such a misinterpretation of this policy effectively subjects any distribution of materials between students to the prior review and approval of the administration, significantly undermining Bucknell’s commitment to free expression.
The next month, Bucknell shut down BUCC’s previously approved “affirmative action bake sale,” designed to protest affirmative action by charging different prices based on ethnicity. The sales are a well-known method of attracting attention to the issue, and are not intended to raise revenue. Associate Dean of Students Gerald Commerford cited a discrepancy between the prices being charged and the prices BUCC listed on its event application form (BUCC was charging lower-than-expected prices), telling BUCC “we have the opportunity to shut you down.”
When BUCC applied to hold a second bake sale, Commerford rejected the application outright, this time saying that the bake sale violated Bucknell’s policies against discrimination. Despite the fact that BUCC was engaging in a well-known form of political protest—which FIRE has defended numerous times at public and private universities—Commerford flatly rejected the possibility of the bake sale even if BUCC made all pricing options optional, saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, because it’s a discriminatory [pricing] policy.” Making matters worse, Commerford suggested that only under certain circumstances would any discussion of affirmative action be welcome, telling them, “It’s not a political issue, ok; it needs to be debated in its proper forum, ok, and not on the public property of the campus.”
FIRE wrote to Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell, pointing out the numerous violations Bucknell had committed of its own policies in suppressing BUCC’s activities, and of its legal and moral obligation to protect its students’ free speech rights. After receiving a response from Bucknell General Counsel Wayne Bromfield upholding the rationale for Bucknell’s deplorable treatment of BUCC and refusing to accept fault, FIRE wrote to President Mitchell once more. After receiving another response from Bromfield in which he refused to address FIRE’s concerns further, Bucknell was added to FIRE’s Red Alert list. President Mitchell has yet to offer any public comment on Bucknell’s free speech crisis, which has been chronicled in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.
Bucknell’s contemptuous treatment of BUCC should send a message to all current and prospective Bucknell students that their free speech rights are at the whim of an administration all too willing to bend its own policies and strong-arm its students to stifle speech it does not want heard on campus. By placing Bucknell on its Red Alert list, FIRE hopes to amplify that message, and to finally compel Bucknell to end its embarrassing fight against free speech.
4 September 2009 @ 8:56AM >>
You may have heard about the uproar over President Obama’s desire to address the nation’s schoolchildren. Although the White House has not yet released the text of the speech, many people wondered whether the speech would be pushing Obama’s policy goals.
The idea that the speech would be political in nature is not something that people fantasized; it was related to the fact that the Department of Education’s lesson plan asked students to “help the president” and write about “what the president wants us to do.”
The Obama administration has since removed such language from the lesson plan, and has issued a rather lame excuse. The Associated Press reports:
Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”
“That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it,” [White House deputy policy director Heather] Higginbottom said.
Of course, the only way the “inartfully worded” excuse works is if the new wording is a clearer way of saying what the original statement intended to convey.
In what universe is “what they can do to help the president” even remotely related to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals”?
One is not a more “artful wording” of the other. The administration’s new phrasing represents a completely different statement altogether.
If the president had intended to deliver a speech asking for students’ help achieving his political goals, I suspect this controversy will dissuade him from doing that.
31 August 2009 @ 8:24AM >>
In honor of the care and compassion shown by Senator Ted Kennedy throughout his life, liberals and their enablers in the media have been proposing changing the name of President Obama’s healthcare reform plan. So, instead of referring to it informally as “ObamaCare,” it may become known as “KennedyCare.”
It was a time when Democratic politicians complained loudly whenever they felt their patriotism was being impugned. In those days, bumper stickers reminded us that “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism” and Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, declared that disruptive protests were “very American and very important.” Now that protests are directed against a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, Nancy Pelosi thinks such disruptions are “un-American.”
During the Bush era, the media looked the other way at the extremist element in the protest movement; the large number of protest signs bearing swastikas and mathematical formulae like “Bush=Hitler” just didn’t interest them. But it did interest me, and because the media didn’t want to report it, I did some reporting of my own. The videos I posted online inadvertently launched me on a second career as a documentary filmmaker.
I recently dug through my old footage and found many examples of the same kind of inflammatory speech that the media and the Democratic Party—forgive the redundancy—now decry. What follows are just a few examples.
5 August 2009 @ 11:59PM >>
The Obama White House may be breaking the Privacy Act of 1974 by asking citizens to report “fishy” political speech.
On Tuesday, Macon Phillips, President Obama’s Director of New Media, wrote on the White House blog asking citizens to rat out fellow citizens who are spreading “disinformation” about Obama’s plans for more government control over the health care system. Phillips wrote:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.
One wonders, what constitutes “fishy” speech or “disinformation”? Is it anything that runs counter to what the White House wants you to think? And what, precisely, is the White House planning to do about someone who’s speech has been “flagged”?
It turns out, even asking for citizens to report on each other may be illegal. According to the Department of Justice, “the purpose of the Privacy Act is to balance the government’s need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy stemming from federal agencies’ collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information about them.”
I’m no lawyer, but it sure sounds like the White House is violating the law by asking people to snitch on their friends and neighbors for engaging in “fishy” political speech. Anyone want to try this one in court?
In the meantime, I’m going to report myself. I’m obviously not thinking the way our Dear Leader wants...
Update: Renowned attorney David T. Hardy identifies another area where the Obama White House appears to be breaking the law:
“(7) maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity;”